Complementary Therapies Can Be Useful To Breast Cancer Patients

Everyday Health has reported that a new set of guidelines has been released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) regarding the use of complementary therapies that can help breast cancer patients manage the side effects and symptoms of their condition.

These guidelines are based on a report published by the Society of Integrative Oncology last year where they examined randomized, peer-reviewed clinical trials on several integrative therapies for breast cancer patients.

These were conducted in a period of 23 years from 1990-2013.

The findings of the report was published in Journal of Clinical Oncology on June 11.

The therapies that were recognized by the ASCO are useful when it comes to addressing the elements of healing that are sometimes overlooked by conventional medicine.


Dr. Heather Greenlee, co-author of the paper and an associate member of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle says that the guidelines also address therapies that may be dangerous or don’t have any scientific proof of effectiveness such as dietary supplements.

“Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe,” she says. “We’re hoping that this will help patients understand that not all integrative therapies are the same. There are different risk profiles and different levels of efficacy,” she added.

The integrative therapies are given grades to indicate their effectiveness and the scientific evidence behind a particularly practice. For instance, grade A is given to a therapy or practice that offers massive benefits while therapies that have moderate benefits are given grade B.

Therapies that are harmful or don’t have adequate scientific evidence to back them up are given grades C, D, H and I.  

The following therapies have been included in the ASCO guidelines for endorsement:

  • Acupuncture and acupressure for the reduction of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Stress management, meditation and music therapy for stress reduction and anxiety
  • Relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy for depression and mood disorders

Numerous breast cancer patients have found these kinds of therapies very helpful to them when it comes to relieving their fatigue and anxiety.

Several surveys have pointed out that between 60-80% of cancer patients use at least one integrative health therapy after being diagnosed with cancer, according to Dr. Greenlee.

“Patients are looking for ways to care for themselves and to promote overall wellness,” she says. “Often they are using these therapies to treat other conditions they have.”

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