After receiving a diagnosis of cancer, patients and their friends and family often have questions that cover many different subjects.
Some of these questions could include the following:
- What should I eat?
- Are there supplements that can help maintain my wellness?
- What can I do besides conventional medicine for my cancer and to promote wellness?
- What should I do about everything my family and friends want me to take?
- What are the best complementary treatments?
- How do I know what is safe for me to take?
- What can I do to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation?
- How do I recover once my treatment is over?
- How do I make sure I don’t lose any more weight or gain unwanted fat?
- How can I get ready for surgery?
- Is there a safe way to reduce the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, that often present after care treatment?
These are excellent questions because they raise issues about how you as a patient can be an active partner in your own health care and make changes in diet and lifestyle that may help optimize your well being.
We understand the importance of evaluating integrative and complementary approaches. We know that many patients and survivors seek out complementary practices such as nutritional information, dietary supplements, massage, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spiritual practices, chiropractics, etc. These are usually added to their conventional cancer treatments in the hope of improving well being, facilitating healing, boosting the immune system, and helping patients to tolerate their cancer treatment more effectively thus potentially maximizing the benefits of anti-cancer therapy. We understand the importance of evaluating these approaches and we want to do this in coordination with the best conventional cancer treatment.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes a distinction between complementary and alternative medicine. According to NCCAM, “complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.”
We support the use of complementary approaches, and believe that integrative medicine — defined by NCCAM as “combining conventional medicine with CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness” — can be the most helpful for our patients with cancer.
Unfortunately, many patients and family members do not know where to turn for the best guidance on these subjects and are too often left with advice from health food store clerks, unregulated web sites or others who lack the knowledge and training to develop a personalized nutritional, dietary supplementation or complementary medicine plan. Patients are often overwhelmed by the well-meaning suggestions of family and friends who have heard of a ‘miracle treatment’ or ‘outstanding supplement’ that will keep their loved one safe. Most patients, confused by the amount of information regarding alternative cancer care on the internet or in books/magazines, cannot always discern good information from bad. We are especially concerned that complementary and alternative treatments not interfere with conventional care and we are committed to giving you reliable information to help you make smart choices in your care.