Why and How to Approach Alternative Treatment: Breast Cancer
When it comes to breast cancer treatment, more and more women feel comfortable exploring alternative treatments than even twenty years ago. While alternative treatment breast cancer is still not widely prescribed (most health teams proceed immediately with traditional Western medical practices like chemo and radiation), complementary and alternative therapies are at least recognised as a treatment possibility. They are often associated with a “holistic approach,” meaning that they treat the person as a whole—physical, mental, and emotional—as opposed to focusing only on the tumour or the specific site of the disease.
Investigating alternative treatment for breast cancer in the articles listed here may help you feel that you have explored all your options and are more in control of your journey.
A very important note: If you decide to seek or try alternative breast cancer treatments, you should keep your primary care doctor informed before you begin. Whether or not your doctor is comfortable with complementary medicine, s/he should respect your choices and should have record of everything about your treatment to effectively monitor your health progress. Some alternative treatments breast cancer may actually interfere with the absorption or action of the conventional medicines you receive, and some can have serious side effects.
In some cases, these treatments can be used as adjunctive therapies to conventional medical treatments. Think of alternative treatments as a supplement, used in addition to, not instead of, conventional treatment. Conventional medicine offers very effective treatment for breast cancer, especially in the early stages, and should not necessarily be discarded in favour of alternative therapies or solutions. Again, inform your physician if you are considering any alternative treatment breast cancer at all, even a vitamin.
Why seek alternatives to the Western medicine protocol
More and more cancer patients feel as though chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery just aren’t enough, so they’re turning to alternative treatment, breast cancer survivors included, to help treat the disease and improve their quality of life. In fact, up to fifty percent of people with all types of cancers may have tried a complementary or alternative therapy, according to an estimate from the American Cancer Society.
Eastern medicine, on the other hand, has a more varied approach. It includes several categories that can be used as alternative treatments, breast cancer: natural products for consumption (such as vitamin supplements, probiotics, and herbal medicines), mind and body medicine (including acupuncture, breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery, qi gong and tai chi, and even hypnotherapy), and manipulative and body-based practices (things like chiropractic spinal manipulation and massage).
Patients turn to alternative treatment for help in a lot of different areas of their lives, including:
- achieving wellness or general disease/recurrence prevention;
- improving immune function;
- enhancing their energy; and
- managing pain.
Getting alternative treatment breast cancer integrated
Some Western doctors don’t ask their patients about supplements or other treatments they may be involved with; studies show that this is the most common reason for poor communication about alternative medicine. In addition, patients don’t always think – or don’t always know – that they should mention this information about alternative treatment to their breast cancer doctor (oncologist) or breast surgeon.
But more and more doctors are coming to realise that this integrated approach is common, and under-utilised. Communication is certainly important: Sometimes multiple medicines or supplements interact with each other and create pain or danger for the patient. But if, through alternative treatment, breast cancer survivors feel more in control of their journey, and better overall, shouldn’t it be explored? The body suffers under stress and fear, but with alternative treatment, breast cancer survivors (including their body, mind and soul) gain new access to their strengths and weaknesses.