Complementary Medicine - Complementary Oncology

Complementary Medicine

Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine

Complementary medical treatments cannot and should not replace standard methods of academic medicine, but should instead complement and accompany them. This definition confirms that they should be seen as a complement and not as an alternative to conventional medicine.

The term complementary medicine is not protected and is defined in many ways.

Modern evidence-based complementary medicine refers to diagnostic and therapeutic measures derived in part from natural healing and alternative medicine, micronutrient therapy, nutrition science and various special treatment modalities (TCM, anthroposophic medicine).

Complementary medical treatments are, as the name suggests, always to be seen as complementary/accompanying measures. It is important to accept the complementary nature of these treatments and this should always be addressed when planning treatment with patients and their families.

Complementary medical measures can be initiated by patients, doctors or therapists. There has been a lot of research into the motives of patients seeking complementary measures.

Most patients express their desire to strengthen their body's defenses against the threat of cancer, to take some ownership of their healing and to integrate naturopathic, salutogenic methods. Many informed patients are aware of numerous methods of complementary medicine. Often however, it is difficult to sort through the options and achieve some level of clarity, which is where a treating physician can help.

If physicians and/or therapists initiate complementary medical treatments, this is usually with the objective of strengthening defenses in the face of cytoreductive tumor therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The modern evidence-based complementary medicine primarily uses methods that have been thoroughly researched. Well-researched treatments include:

  • Mistletoe therapy
  • Peptide therapy
  • Selenium therapy
  • Treatment with L-carnitine
  • Treatment with other micronutrients
  • Sport and exercise therapy
  • Nutritional medicine
  • Psychosocial support

The patient's current status is paramount when it comes to choosing the best method of treatment. The limits of each measure need to be considered when discussing treatment goals and options with the individual patient.

Conventional supportive treatments (anti-emetics, growth factors, analgesics, etc.) are supplemented and often improved with the targeted therapy of leading symptoms such as fatigue syndrome, immunosuppression, malnutrition and the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.