Understanding Complementary Therapies
Complementary therapies are treatments such as exercise, acupuncture, spirituality, nutrition, art or music therapy or yoga that help patients deal with side effects of cancer treatment and also help improve quality of life.
Complementary therapies, sometimes called integrative therapies, have become popular in the past few decades as studies have shown benefits to certain types of therapies in addition to traditional cancer therapy such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Complementary means “in addition to,” not “instead of.” Complementary therapies often lessen pain and help patients feel better emotionally and spiritually. Complementary therapy differs from alternative medicine, which is in lieu of traditional medical care, and often refers to the use of herbs, vitamins and drugs not considered routine or proven safe and effective for the treatment of cancer.
WellStar supports complementary therapies that research has found to help control pain, increase mobility, lift mood and improve quality of life. Your WellStar treatment team is expert in knowing which complementary therapies may be of help to you. Some, such as yoga, may work for one person but may not be enjoyable or helpful for the next. WellStar offers massage therapists, who are trained as part of a treatment team, for different types of cancers and their treatment side effects. For example, some massage therapists specialize in treating lymphedema, a painful side effect that sometimes occurs when lymph nodes are removed to treat breast cancer. Your WellStar treatment team can offer expert advice to help you decide which complementary therapies, if any, may benefit you.