Complementary Breast Cancer Treatments

The standard treatments for breast cancer often cause a number of unwanted side effects including nausea, pain, and fatigue. In response, patients have been opting to complement their standard treatments with other therapies that may help to relieve undesirable side effects.

These complementary treatments can be grouped into five categories:

  • Whole-medical systems – culturally-based healing traditions, such as acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathy, and naturopathy.
  • Mind-body medicine – treatments that involve the mind’s ability to influence the body, including prayer, hypnotherapy,meditation, and music or art therapy. 
  • Energy medicine – based on energy fields that surround and saturate the body, such as reiki and qigong. 
  • Biologically-based practices – internal treatments such as nutritional therapy, supplements, vitamins, and herbal medicines.
  • Manipulative and body-based practices – treatments that surround the touch andmanipulation of the body, including massage therapy and chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.

Due to the difficulty in finding a placebo for these complementary treatments, proof of their effectiveness is sparse. However, it has been demonstrated that diet and exercise are crucial when it comes to complementing traditional breast cancer treatments. Exercise can improve energy and help to relieve tension and depression.
As a skin care professional, it is important to note that these treatments are not meant to replace chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Clients should make decisions about complementary therapies in conjunction with a licensed health care provider.

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