(Last Updated on : 14/03/2009)
Many diverse treatment methods are followed in the treatment of cancer. The complementary and alternative medicines are used quite extensively for treating cancer, along with the conventional treatment methods. The alternative medicine do not treat only the disease and its related symptoms, it also tries to treat the body and controls the cancers, affecting the other body parts.
Alternative medicine is being widely used in treatment of cancer now-a-days, and is giving responses similar to the conventional therapies. The application of any particular alternative cancer treatment mainly depends on the stage of the cancerous tumour, primary or advanced. The alternative treatment of cancer is sometimes used alone or along with the conventional therapies, depending on the type of the disease. The complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes a wide range of healing philosophies, approaches and therapies. The main objectives of these therapies are to prevent illness, reduce stress, prevent or reduce side effects and symptoms, and also to control or cure disease.
The complementary therapies are mostly used in treatment of cancer, alongside conventional treatments. These treatment methods actually play a supportive role and are used in addition to standard treatments. The most commonly used methods of complementary therapy include the mind-body control interventions like visualisation or relaxation; manual healing, including acupressure and massage; art therapy, counseling, homeopathy; vitamins or herbal products; acupuncture, immunology therapy, holistic treatment etc.
On the other hand, the alternative therapies play both the supportive role and are also sometimes used as a substitute to the conventional treatments. The most commonly used alternative treatment methods of cancer include Electromagnetic therapy, essiac (a mixture of herbs), iscador (mistletoe extract), gerson therapy, etc. However, not much is known about the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative methods, in treatment of cancer. Though, many of them were once considered as unorthodox, they are now being used to help patients feel better and recover faster. The traditional therapies, like Ayurveda is also being used to cure cancer, quite extensively. The herbal therapies, used in treatment of cancer, are referred as the oldest of all treatments in the world. This therapy mainly uses the herbs and various natural products for increasing the self immunity system of cancer patients.
Some special dietary regulations are also sometimes followed to support the treatment methods of cancer and enhance the curability. The special diets are prescribed to compensate a particular deficiency that the patient may be experiencing, during the treatment of cancer. The diets are assigned for both long and short durations, and sometimes a pre-prepared nutritional formula, or vitamin and mineral supplements may also be prescribed. However, there are no steadfast nutrition rules during cancer treatment. Taking frequent smaller meals, snacks or liquids like juice, soup, or milkshakes, with sufficient proteins and calories, is preferred during cancer treatment. Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day; choosing whole grains instead of refined (processed) grains and sugars; limiting consumption of red meat, especially processed meats and those high in fat; selecting foods that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight; are some of the other dietary measures prescribed during treatment of cancer. Limiting salt intake and increasing fiber consumption are also prescribed to some patients during cancer treatment.
The alternative medicinal therapies have been an integral part of treatment of cancer for the last several years. They are frequently used, sometimes to support and sometimes to replace the conventional treatments of cancer.