What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. "Complementary medicine" refers to treatments that are used with standard treatment. "Alternative medicine" refers to treatments that are used instead of standard treatment.
Standard treatments are based on scientific evidence from research studies. While claims made by CAM treatment providers about their benefits can sound promising, we do not know how safe many CAM treatments are or how well they work. Studies are under way to determine the safety and usefulness of many cancer-related CAM practices. NCI's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) supports many of these studies.
Overview of CAM Approaches
- Thinking about Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People with Cancer
Describes how to make informed choices when looking for CAM.
- Talking about Complementary and Alternative Medicine with Health Care Providers: A Workbook and Tips
A workbook to help patients and health care providers talk about use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during and after cancer care.
- Topics in Complementary and Alternative Therapies (PDQ®)
Expert-reviewed information summary that contains information on complementary and/or alternative therapies.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)
Provides information about CAM approaches in cancer treatment, how approaches are being evaluated, and current CAM clinical trials.
Acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicine approaches, healing systems, and beliefs that have evolved over time in different cultures and parts of the world for use in cancer and other conditions.
Healing methods based on the belief that the mind can affect the body's response to cancer. These methods may help reduce side effects from treatment and improve physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Special diets or supplements sometimes used in the treatment of people with cancer. Examples that may benefit cancer patients are coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants.
The use of prescription drugs in a way not originally intended; vaccines, hormones, natural products (also called botanicals), and other biologic treatments used in the treatment of people with cancer. Herbal extracts and other herbs are also included.
News articles and other information on CAM topics related to cancer prevention, treatment, or symptom management.