Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term used to describe non-orthodox methods of treatment used in conjunction with or as an alternative to conventional medicine. Complementary and alternative therapies are applied to relieve the symptoms of prostate cancer as well as to combat the negative effects of standard prostate cancer care. Though lacking concrete scientific evidence, prostate cancer alternative treatments, like diet and nutritional supplements, are deployed by some as the sole means of obtaining a prostate cancer cure.
Alternative and Complementary Medicine's Role in Prostate Cancer Treatment
After receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer, traditional modalities of treatment are often the first to come to mind. Radiation, prostate cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and cryosurgery, among others, are all conventional methods of treatment that are routinely explored when in the pursuit of a prostate cancer cure. However, in recent years, alternative treatments for prostate cancer have garnered attention. What are examples of complementary and alternative medicines and/or therapy? Alternative treatments for prostate cancer and other conditions are commonly classified in one of five categories: mind-body, biologically-based, manipulative practices, energy medicines, and whole medical systems. Mind-body CAM practices include meditation, biofeedback, and Yoga and center on the belief that the mind can have a direct affect on the body. Biologically-based or natural prostate cancer treatments, as it is often called, explore the benefits of diet, vitamins, and herbs for the management of prostate cancer. Manipulative practices like massage therapy and chiropractic care, address the skeletal structure and tissue of the body, whereas energy medicines such as Reiki and therapeutic touch, deal with the supposed energy-fields of the body to promote wellness. Whole CAM treatments include Acupuncture and homeopathy and investigate the healing benefits of non-conventional medical systems.
Alternative Treatment as a Complement to Conventional Care
Alternative medicine used in conjunction with traditional methods of treatment is an action known as complementary or integrative medicine. This approach to care is commonly used to combat the symptoms of prostate cancer or the negative side effects of treatment. In this application of CAM, alternative medicines are applied to enhance a patient's overall quality of life rather than to obtain a prostate cancer cure through alternative modalities of treatment alone. An example of complementary or integrative medicine includes the use of acupuncture to reduce the stresses and side effects of chemotherapy. It is important to note that patients should first consult with their doctor before pursing an alternative medicine as a complement to traditional prostate cancer treatment. Not doing so may result in an unexpected interaction or negative interference with current ongoing therapies.
Alternative Prostate Cancer Treatment
Using non-conventional treatments in place of standard procedures like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation is an approach to cancer care known as alternative medicine. A prostate cancer diet, nutritional supplements, and the use of specific vitamins and herbs are examples of alternative prostate cancer treatment.
Is CAM Widely Used?
According to the 2007 CDC National Health Statistics survey, 38 percent of adults reported using some form of complementary and alternative medicine. Of that percentage, conditions most commonly treated with CAM included back, neck, and joint pain as well as arthritis, colds, and anxiety and depression. Though not considered a leading use of CAM, alternative, complementary and integrative applications of non-conventional treatment were found to be high among patients with serious illness, like cancer1. Smaller studies conducted on cancer patients included the February 2000 statistic issued in the journal Cancer, reporting 37 percent of 46 patients with prostate cancer used one or more CAM therapies as part of their cancer treatment regime. These treatments included vitamins, prostate cancer diets, and herbal remedies2.
1 Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 10, 200
2 Kao GD, Devine P. Use of complementary health practices by prostate carcinoma patients undergoing radiation therapy. Cancer 2000; 88(3):615–619.