Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are used together with standard cancer treatments. Some people find them helpful.

Ask your doctor before using any therapy to make sure it is safe and won’t interfere with your existing treatment.

What are complementary therapies?

Many people with cancer use complementary therapies. They can help with the side effects of treatment and the stress of having cancer.

Complementary therapies are used together with standard cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. They do not replace these treatments.

There are many complementary therapies, including:

  • meditation
  • relaxation
  • aromatherapy
  • acupuncture
  • reflexology
  • massage.

Some therapies may interfere with standard cancer treatments. Check with your specialist, GP, pharmacist or nurse before you start any new therapy.

What are alternative therapies?

Alternative therapies are treatments used instead of normal cancer treatments.

There is no evidence that most alternative therapies work. They may appeal to some people, but using them can delay life-saving treatment.  This can cause more harm than good.

Some people talk about complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs) as a single group. It is important to remember that they are not the same thing.

Make sure you tell your doctor about any medication you are taking (including herbs or vitamins), and any complementary therapy or other therapy you are having. These may affect your response to treatment. 

Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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