Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Lung Cancer

What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

  • Integrative medicine is the combined use of complementary therapy with standard treatment. It 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.
  • 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.

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 your treatment 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.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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