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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2004 Jan-Mar;5(1):3-14.

Complementary and alternative cancer therapies: past, present and the future scenario.

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  • 1Environmental Carcinogenesis Division, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow-226 001, India.


Use of complementary and alternative therapies is widespread among cancer patients. Throughout the world cancer patients try many questionable or unproven treatment methods. The reasons for adopting these therapies are complex and are related to the social and cultural contexts of their geographical locations. In case of severe illness, the desire to leave no stone unturned is a powerful motivator. In developing countries, ignorance, socioeconomics, and inadequate access to mainstream medical facilities are major factors that play an important role for patients opting for alternative therapies that are replacements for mainstream treatment. Whereas in developed countries a significant proportion of cancer patients try complementary therapies as adjuncts to mainstream care for management of symptoms and to improve quality of life. Many alternative therapies, including pharmacological and biological treatments, remain highly controversial but at the same time are very popular. Evidence from randomized trial supports the value of hypnosis for cancer pain and nausea; relaxation therapy and massage for anxiety; and acupuncture for nausea. This article reviews the different popular alternative cancer therapies practiced in India and neighboring south east Asian countries to project the current international scenario on complementary and alternative cancer therapies.

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