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What to Know About Complementary, Integrative, and Alternative Care for Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Complementary or integrative care may help you. This means doing supportive therapies in addition to your cancer treatment. These treatments have many benefits but they do not cure. People also call this holistic care because it may help your mind and body.

You may hear the terms complementary and alternative used together. But these treatments are not the same.

People use complementary medicine with standard medicine. This may help you cope better with your illness and treatment. An example is meditating to relax during radiation.

People use alternative medicine instead of standard medicine. An example is taking vitamins instead of having surgery. Experts generally don’t recommend or encourage this. No alternative treatments for cancer have been shown to work. They also haven’t been well tested like standard treatments.

Examples of Complementary Therapies

All of the following are examples of complementary therapies.

  • Acupressure and acupuncture

  • Biofeedback

  • Energy therapies

  • Exercise and dance

  • Expressive arts therapy (music, art, writing, etc.)

  • Herbs

  • Hypnosis

  • Massage

  • Meditation

  • Relaxation, with or without guided imagery

  • Vitamin and dietary supplements

  • Yoga

Many people use these in addition to their cancer treatment. That’s why they are called supportive care. Using these kinds of care may help you feel better and more in control. Some types can lower anxiety or ease pain. Some types may help you cope with the treatments. Some types may help ease side effects such as nausea and constipation. The key is to talk with your doctor or nurse before using these treatments.

Thinking about trying something new? First, talk with your doctor or nurse about what you’re interested in trying. Some types of care may not mix well with standard treatment. They can keep that treatment from working. Or they can hurt you. Even treatments that seem safe may change how chemotherapy works. That’s true for herbal treatment, vitamins, or diet therapies. Your doctor or nurse can help you learn more about the treatment, including how well it’s been tested. They may recommend an expert for you to speak with.

Decided to use one of these treatments? Make sure you tell your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist what you’re doing. That way, they can be aware of potential interactions. Tell them even if they don’t ask about it.