In looking at uses for complementary and alternative medicine with bone cancer, the National Cancer Institute defines complementary medicine as treatments used together with standard treatment, while alternative medicine takes the place of standard treatment (n.d.).
Complementary Bone Cancer Treatment
If you’re in the recovery stage of bone cancer, your doctor may recommend complementary bone cancer treatment options, such as mind-body medicine, nutritional therapy and different types of physical therapy. These approaches do not and should not replace traditional treatment, but rather are used in concert with it. These complementary therapies may help you deal with various symptoms of bone cancers, as well as the side effects of bone cancer treatment.
These techniques, which can help you deal with the physical and emotional issues that arise during bone cancer treatment, include:
- Energy therapies
- Laughter therapy
- Spiritual support
- Stress management and relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery
- Support groups.
The side effects of bone cancers and bone cancer treatment can include a depletion of the body’s nutrients, weight loss, loss of appetite and poor digestion. A healthy diet, combined with selected nutritional supplements, may be beneficial. A comprehensive treatment plan will take into account both your health needs and your food preferences. Consider working with a registered dietitian knowledgeable about the effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Bone cancer treatment can affect not only your general fitness level, but also your ability to do daily activities. Physical therapy and exercise can help you regain these abilities. If you’ve undergone surgery for bone cancer, you may need to undergo rehabilitation to regain the use of the affected body part.
Some complementary therapies, such as yoga, combine mind-body treatments and exercise. Speak to your doctor before beginning any new exercise or physical therapy regimen.
Alternative Medicine and Bone Cancer
A variety of alternative pharmacologic and biologic treatments, including prescription drugs, hormones, complex natural products and other biologic interventions, haven’t yet been accepted in mainstream medicine as cancer treatments. In most cases, more definitive research is necessary before they are scientifically approved to treat bone cancers.
The following substances fall into the category of alternative pharmacologic and biologic treatments:
- 714-X: a chemical compound that contains camphor and is thought to boost the immune system
- Antineoplastons: chemical compounds found normally in urine and blood
- CancellÂ®/CantronÂ®/ProtocelÂ®: liquid mixtures promoted as a treatment for cancer, but no clinical evidence that they work has been produced
- Cartilage: from cows and sharks Essiac/Flor essence: herbal tea mixtures thought to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects
- Hydrazine sulfate: a chemical compound thought to inhibit a tumor’s ability to take in glucose
- Laetrile/amygdalin: from the pits of certain fruits, this compound’s side effects are similar to those of cyanide poisoning
- Milk thistle: antioxidant that may make cancer treatment side effects more tolerable
- Mistletoe extracts: while not approved by the FDA, this treatment is widely prescribed in Europe
- Newcastle Disease Virus: cells infected by this virus are being studied for use as a cancer vaccine
- Selected vegetables/Sun’s Soup: several different mixtures of vegetables and herbs being studied as treatments for cancer.
Don’t begin any course of alternative medicine without first consulting your doctor. These treatments haven’t been approved by the FDA, and may interfere with the treatment your doctor has prescribed.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Your Choice
The choice of bone cancer treatment is yours to make. Always research your options and understand the potential risks and benefits. One of the biggest risks of alternative medicine and bone cancer is that if the alternative doesn’t work and your cancer advances, conventional treatment may become more difficult. If you want to try alternative medicine, work with your healthcare providers to create a treatment plan that works for you.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America. (2008). Bone cancer treatments — Complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.cancercenter.com/bone-cancer/complementary-alternative-bone-treatment.cfm.
National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Complementary and alternative medicine: pharmacologic and biologic treatments. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cam/pharm-and-biologics.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2008). Bone cancer. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/bone-cancer-000023.htm.