Along with the conservative methods of treating cancer, such as chemotherapy or anticancer drugs, oncology patients now actively take advantage of the CAM treatments, also known as complementary and alternative medicines. National Cancer Institute (2015) defines several alternatives for standard cancer treatment, such as traditional Chinese medicine, dietary supplements, usage of aroma oils, and others. However, little research has been done to prove the absolute efficacy of any of these methods for the treatment of digestive system cancer.
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Only careful examination and consultation with the health care professional may help the patient to select the most suitable CAM, meaning that there is no universal treatment for all types of digestive system cancer. As suggested by Yue, Gao, Zou, Yu, & Zheng (2017), the best CAM for those suffering from the last stage of pancreatic cancer is Chinese herbal medicine. While herbs cannot directly impact the growth of the tumor, the low toxicity of the method helps to avoid pain and external side effects, which accompany standard oncological curing. Block, Block, & Gyllenhaal (2018) also supported the findings of the research, discussing the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of colorectal cancer. Such procedures as “classical foot massage and reflexology” might work as effective painkillers after chemotherapy (Block et al., 2018, p.896). In addition, Block et al. (2018) mentioned the positive effects of using cannabis while dealing with nausea and trouble sleeping. Finally, the researchers suggested practicing gentle yoga to reduce tiredness, improve mood, and limit pain in the musculoskeletal system (Block et al., 2018). Apart from taking into consideration the type of oncology when choosing CAM, patients should pay attention to the side effects they experience from standard treatment, aiming to address them with complementary and alternative medicine.
While the popularity of CAM among oncology patients is growing, there are no conclusive studies that would replicate the results of the previous research. Therefore, complementary and alternative medicine should only be used as a supplement to reduce the side effects of a standard treatment of cancer. Since the outcome of such treatment varies from patient to patient, CAM needs to be prescribed on an individual basis.
Block, K.I., Block, P.B., & Gyllenhaal, C. (2018). Integrative treatment for colorectal cancer: A comprehensive approach. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24 (9-10), 890-901. Web.
National Cancer Institute. (2015). Complementary and alternative medicine. Web.
Yue, Q., Gao, G., Zou, G., Yu, H., & Zheng, X. (2017). Natural products as adjunctive treatment for pancreatic cancer: Recent trends and advancements. BioMed Research International, 2017, 8412508. Web