Complementary and Alternative Therapies | American Lung Association

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Do your research!

Sometimes complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies can offer lung cancer symptom relief for people, but use caution and consult with your doctor.

What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

  • Complementary therapy is used with standard lung cancer treatment. The combined use of these two types of lung cancer treatment is called integrative medicine.
  • Alternative therapy is lung cancer treatment used instead of conventional treatment. Most people with lung cancer who use CAM, take the integrative medicine approach. They combine complementary therapies with their standard treatment.
  • Integrative medicine can be used to control pain, reduce anxiety, lessen side effects and improve your quality of life. Be sure to discuss participating in CAM with your doctor. You need to know that the therapies will not interfere with your standard lung cancer treatment or cause side effects. You should never stop your standard treatment without consulting with your doctor.

There are many different types of CAM, some of which are listed below.

  • Mind and Body Medicines
    • Meditation
    • Biofeedback
    • Yoga
  • Biology Based Practices
    • Vitamins
    • Herbs
    • Special Diets
  • Touch Based Practices
    • Massage
    • Chiropractic Care
    • Reflexology
  • Energy Work
    • Tai Chi
    • Reiki
    • Therapeutic Touch
  • Whole Medical Systems
    • Ayurvedic Medicine
    • Chinese Medicine
    • Naturopathic Medicine

For more information on complementary and alternative therapies for lung cancer, visit The National Cancer Institute's Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Use Caution

Some CAM techniques can help treat symptoms and make you feel better. Unfortunately, other CAM treatments make claims that are not backed by science. Some even can harm instead of help you. Some may interact with chemotherapy and radiation therapy causing more symptoms or making treatment less effective. As you consider your options, here are three important steps you can take:

  • Look for "red flags." Do NOT receive any treatment that:
    • Promises to cure cancer
    • Tells you not to have regular medical treatments
    • Is a "secret" that requires you to visit certain providers or travel to another country
    • Is not approved by your doctor
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about any method you are thinking about using.
  • Ask practitioners to work with your doctor. Avoid any who refuse.

    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 13, 2017.

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