Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Cancer Therapy

Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Cancer Therapy

February 11, 2014

I have a patient who consulted for her breast cancer after previously treated by physicians.  She was diagnosed to have breast cancer on January 17, 2014 by another physician.  She was advised standard cancer treatment, such as surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.  However, she decided to have the so-called complementary and alternative medicines (CAM).  After three sessions with more than 90 thousand pesos spent, she did not see any improvement.  She was advised to have 3 more sessions.

While she was buying a juicer in an appliance store, J&R, in downtown Manila, she had a talk with the owner of the store and was subsequently advised to consult me for another opinion.

She is now preparing herself for a standard cancer therapy.  She lamented that the money she spent for the CAM should have been used for the standard cancer therapy.   Some of her regret statements were “if only I knew the real score with CAM” and “if only I met you earlier.”

I felt sad for her.   I feel there is a need to keep on educating people on CAM and standard cancer therapies.  I asked permission from her to narrate her experience so as to reach out to other Filipino women, for enlightenment.

Below is a scanned copy of the typical CAMs that she was receiving.  Note the cost of just one session of treatment.


Below are clippings on the Philippine Society of Medical Oncologists’ stand on CAMs.

cam_cancer_B_rj_14feb12 cam_cancer_A_rj_14feb12

Below are information on CAM which I copied from US – NIH:

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists, practice.

Complementary medicine is used together with standard medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment.

Alternative medicine is used in place of standard medical care. An example is treating heart disease with chelation therapy (which seeks to remove excess metals from the blood) instead of using a standard approach.

The claims that CAM treatment providers make can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many CAM treatments are or how well they work. Studies are underway to determine the safety and usefulness of many CAM practices.

To minimize the health risks of a CAM treatment

  • Discuss it with your doctor. It might have side effects or interact with other medicines
  • Find out what the research says about it
  • Choose CAM practitioners carefully
  • Tell all of your doctors and practitioners which CAM and standard treatments you use

NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NOTE: I will try to share more information on the CAMs in the future.


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