Cancer: what place to give to alternative medicines?

According to a recent study, the use of alternative medicines can be dangerous for patients with cancer. What are the risks of complementary medicine? How to be vigilant and use them best?

According to the study published in October 2018 in the journal JAMA Oncology, cancer patients who choose to turn exclusively to alternative medicine would be about twice as likely to die as other patients. Nevertheless, when these medicines are well framed, they can help the patient to heal better.

Complementary medicines are becoming more popular. So some doctors oncologists open themselves to these techniques and think about the best way to avoid the excesses: “It is essential that practitioners of complementary therapies be vigilant to address patients or at least to dialogue and eventually find another doctor or another institution … But there must be a dialogue at the same time between the caregivers and the patient but also between the complementary therapy therapist and the caregivers, “explains Dr. St├ęphanie Trager, oncologist.

The Gustave Roussy Institute pioneered the introduction of complementary medicines in hospitals. Auriculotherapy, acupuncture … is mainly used to fight against pain. Because with less pain, patients can cope better with complex care pathways and complete their treatments until they are cured.

Massages, acupuncture, homeopathy … these supportive care “do not treat cancer. These treatments help the patient to better live their treatment and their disease,” says Dr. Christine Pailler, oncologist and auriculotherapist, “(supportive care ) help fight against pain, tiredness, sleep disorders … It acts on all the side effects of the treatments “. In total, one in two people with cancer would use at least one complementary therapy to improve their quality of life.


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