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Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Breast Cancer

How might meditation, journaling, music therapy, and support groups help a woman with breast cancer?

Many complementary treatments are based on the idea that what you think, feel, and believe has an impact on your health. Meditation, journaling, music or art therapy, guided imagery, and joining a breast cancer support group all help you relax. They make you feel less alone and help create the most optimal mental and physical state conducive to healing. They also offer you emotional support. Many women also use healing prayers and affirmations -- perhaps the most popular form of mind-body medicine.

Precautions: None.

Should I talk with my doctor before trying alternative treatments for breast cancer?

To use alternative treatments for breast cancer safely and effectively, you need to become an informed health care consumer. Ask your doctor these basic questions about any complementary or alternative treatments for breast cancer -- before you try them:

  • What are the proven benefits of this complementary treatment that have been documented by high-quality, clinical research?
  • What are the "anecdotal" benefits reported by patients but not officially studied, such as less stress or better sleep?
  • What are the risks, if any?
  • Can this form of complementary treatment interfere with my standard breast cancer care?

Most doctors will be glad you're talking openly with them about your interest in a complementary treatment rather than trying it without their knowledge. Increasingly, Western medical doctors are becoming good sources of information and can provide referrals to local CAM practitioners they trust.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on June 26, 2012
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