Patients & Families
Patients and Families
Complementary and Alternative Therapy

A Complementary Therapy is any therapy that is not usually used within the health care system for cancer care. Complementary therapies are used together with conventional cancer treatments.

The purpose of a complementary therapy is not to treat the cancer itself. Complementary therapies help a person cope with cancer, its treatment or side effects, and to feel better. For example, chewing ginger to help manage nausea caused by chemotherapy is considered a complementary therapy.

Before trying any complementary therapy, talk to your Healthcare Team about the benefits and risks. Together you can make the best decision for your care.

You may find it helpful to read the booklet “Complementary Therapies” available from the Canadian Cancer Society, call 1-888-939-3333 or visit www.cancer.ca.

You may also find it helpful to read the Complementary Therapy Section of the BC Cancer Agency’s website, www.bccancer.bc.ca

Alternative therapies are used in place of traditional cancer treatments. Alternative therapies are considered scientifically unproven therapies.

You may have heard the words complementary and alternative used to mean the same thing, but they mean something very different. Complementary therapies are used with traditional cancer treatment. Alternative therapies are used instead of traditional treatment.

For example, a complementary therapy can be using herbal remedy together WITH traditional cancer treatment such as chemotherapy. An alternative therapy is deciding not to have chemotherapy and ONLY using an herbal remedy.

Before trying any other therapy, talk to your Healthcare Team about the benefits and risks. Together you can make the best decision for your care.

You may find it helpful to read the Alterative Therapy Section of the BC Cancer Agency’s website, www.bccancer.bc.ca.