Complementary and Integrative Approaches for Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Woman with laptop computer.

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer use complementary health approaches. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 65 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.

A substantial amount of evidence suggests that some complementary health approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga may help to manage some symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment. For other complementary approaches (e.g., natural products), the evidence is more limited. This issue of the digest provides information on the evidence base of complementary and integrative health approaches for cancer-related symptoms and treatment side effects.

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