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Complementary Therapies in Cancer Care – An Overview

More and more people with a cancer diagnosis are researching the treatment options available to them, prior to, and informing, their treatment plan.

Some people choose standard allopathic treatment alone, some choose complementary therapy alongside allopathic treatment [this approach is called integrative medicine] and some people choose a purely holistic, or alternative, treatment plan.

Supportive options, include: aromatherapy, craniosacral therapy, massage, reflexology, reiki, yoga and meditation, and these therapies may:

  • Reduce the side effects of allopathic cancer treatment
  • Improve physical and emotional well-being
  • Improve recovery from allopathic cancer treatment

Researchers have found that the following therapies can reduce pain and improve well-being:

Physical activity. Build strength and endurance, relax and cope with stress, relieve pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Talk with a physical therapist or a trainer who works with people with cancer. They can help find the best exercise plan for you.

Mind and body practices. It is important to manage stress and depression during and after treatment. Many mind and body practices can help improve quality of life.

Yoga. Yoga uses breathing exercises, mediation, and poses to bring movement to muscle groups. Yoga has been found to help regulate stress hormones and improve mood and physical well-being. It can also reduce pain, fatigue, nausea, sleep problems, and inflammation.

Meditation. Meditation is the focusing of attention to calm the mind and relax the body. It decreases chronic pain and improves mood and many other aspects of quality of life. Studies have also shown that meditation can lower stress hormones and improve immune function. Meditation can be self-taught or guided by others.

Massage. Research shows that massage can: reduce pain, decrease tension and stress, help with recovery after surgery, ease anxiety and depression and help with sleep problems and fatigue.

If you are unsure of your next steps please ring me for a further conversation. I am qualified and experienced in offering therapies for those with a cancer diagnosis, having worked for Dimbley Cancer Care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, both in outpatients, inpatients and chemotherapy suite.

I then worked as Service Manager and Senior Practitioner at the Macmillan Cancer Centre, UCLH, where I also worked with children and teenagers and in haematology suite. My advanced training was at The Christie in Manchester, Adapting Complementary Therapies for Cancer and Supportive Care.

I offer post graduate training for complementary therapists and other health professionals working in cancer care.