Conventional and Unconventional Therapies for Cancer Survivors
Posted Nov 06 2009 4:18pm
Cancer survivors are people who are living with a diagnosis of cancer, including those who have recovered. Awareness of cancer survival has increased greatly since the 1990s. So has the number of people living with a diagnosis of cancer. The total number of recovered cancer survivors in the world in 2002 was estimated to be just under 25 million, and by 2050 may approach 70 million.
The term ‘cancer survivor’ covers a very wide variety of circumstances. Thus, the needs of people currently undergoing therapy are likely to be different from those of people whose metabolic functions have been altered as a result of therapy and from those of people who are evidently fully recovered and whose functions are intact.
Conventional medicine is also known as modern or Western medicine. It is allopathic, meaning that it relies on diagnosis of disease, by examinations and tests, and treatment. With cancer, treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Conventional medicine is based on investigation of the biology (including anatomy, physiology and biochemistry) of body organs, tissues and cells. It includes an understanding of the pathological processes that lead to disease, and testing of interventions for efficacy and safety. Conventional practitioners undergo externally validated and structured education and training programs, and continuing professional development, and they are subject to statutory regulation.
Complementary and alternative medicine includes many diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products- some traditional, some modern. Training and regulation of providers exist, but often vary between therapies and nations. Some orthodox scientific evidence is available regarding some of these therapies, although the efficacy of many remains unclear and often controversial.
These therapies include mind-body interventions, such as meditation; biologically based treatments, such as radical nutritional regimens,micronutrientsupplements, and herbal products; manipulative and body-based techniques, such as massage and osteopathy; ‘energy therapies’, such as the use of magnets or therapeutic touch; and alternative medical systems, such as traditional Chinese andAyurvedic medicine.
‘Integrative medicine’is a recent approach that uses some complementary and alternative therapies within conventional medicine. Physical activity programs and dietary interventions are commonly used in integrative medicine, together with counseling.
Cancer survivors should consult their physician or qualified health professional before initiating any therapies that are alternative or complementary to conventional therapies. Cancer survivors should keep all of the health professionals involved in providing any treatment fully informed of their choices in these areas.