The following was written and posted by Paul Edwards to the Advanced Prostate Cancer Online Support Group:

The March 2014 issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology published an article “Why do some cancer patients receiving chemotherapy choose to take complementary and alternative medicines and what are the risks?” by authors from University of Queensland School of Pharmacy and the Sunshine Coast Cancer Care Services.
The research found that
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that is systemically absorbed is most likely to interfere with concurrent chemotherapy and potentially cause harm to cancer patients.
  • When tested in rigorous clinical trials, no CAM cancer treatments alone have shown benefit beyond placebo.
  • With the exception of ginger to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea, there is no compelling evidence overriding risk to take complementary medicines for supportive care during chemotherapy treatment.
  • There is, however, established evidence to use mind–body complementary therapies for supportive care during chemotherapy treatment.
The study listed mind–body therapies where benefit over standard care had been proven and which were safe to use as adjuvants with chemotherapy:

*Acupuncture Benefit for chemotherapy-induced acute vomiting

*Acupressure (acupuncture points stimulated by pressure) Benefit for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

*Moxibustion (acupuncture points stimulated by heat) Benefit for chemotherapy-induced acute vomiting

*Mild exercise Reduces fatigue and enhances life satisfaction. Yoga has been shown to be a useful practice for women recovering from breast cancer treatments to reduce stress, improve quality of life and well-being, and to reduce persistent post treatment fatigue

*Hypnosis Decreases chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

*Imagery and relaxation (e.g. imagining immune cells as powerful medieval knights or big brooms dispatching cancer cells)  Modulates immune functioning during treatment

*Massage Decreases chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

*Reflexology decreases anxiety during chemotherapy

*Meditation Shown to alter immune patterns by decreasing stress.  Decreases anxiety and depression

*Music  Reduces chemotherapy-induced anxiety

*Self-expression (includes written or verbal expression, artwork, humor and movement)  Written emotional expression has shown a positive effect on outlook and decreased dark feelings in patients with breast cancer

I agree that at all stages of treatment your medical specialists need to be aware of what supplements and alternative medications you are taking.