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Alternative Medicine for Cancer

By

Robert Peter Gale

, MD, PhD, Imperial College London

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Some people turn to alternative medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more , including certain medicinal herbs, to treat their cancer, instead of or in addition to standard treatment. However, most types of alternative medicine have not been subjected to careful scientific studies. Thus, very little is known about the effectiveness of alternative medicine in treating cancer.

Although benefits of alternative medicine for cancer have not been scientifically proven, there is significant potential for harm because

  • The alternative medicine may be toxic.

  • The alternative medicine may interact with standard treatment, such as chemotherapy or medicine that people take for other disorders, thus reducing its effectiveness.

  • The alternative medicine may be costly, reducing the person’s ability to afford standard treatment.

  • If alternative medicine is used instead of standard treatment or delays standard treatment, the person will not obtain the proven benefits of standard treatment.

People using alternative medicine should inform their doctor. Hiding the use of alternative medicine could be harmful.

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Alternative Medicine for Cancer
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