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Alternative Treatments for Rectal Cancer

written by: Dr. Sloan, MD. • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/5/2011

Many people are not aware about integrative cancer treatment for rectal cancer which is a more holistic approach towards patients as compared to alternative rectal cancer treatments alone. Alternative cancer treatments and complementary cancer treatments are not the same at all.

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    Alternative Rectal Cancer Treatments Vs Complementary Rectal Treatments

    When a particular practice is used in place of the conventional therapy, it is known as alternative treatment. However, when an alternative practice is used along with, rather than substituting conventional treatment, it is termed as complementary medicine. Treatments like acupuncture and certain herbal remedies have received much attention among patients and medical practitioners as a potential treatment to be used together with the standard therapy. Perhaps these alternative rectal cancer treatments may offer more treatment options for the patients in the future, but not until these treatments have been proved safe and effective for clinical usage.

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    Cancer Patients May Consider CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

    Many cancer patients do consider using CAM during cancer therapy; patients undergoing rectal cancer treatment are no exception. Regardless whether with the knowledge of the treating oncologists, many cancer patients use alternatives or complementary medicine for various reasons:

    1. Coping with side effects of cancer treatment: This is the most common reason.
    2. Coping with the treatment related stress and anxiety.
    3. Hoping to treat the cancer and to do something more apart from the standard treatment offered.
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    Going Beyond CAM - The Integrative Medicine

    Integrative medicine is a holistic approach that combines the standard medicine with the CAM practices focusing on the patient’s body, mind and spirit. Very often patients find that this integrative therapy helps them to ease the stress and anxiety, contributing to their overall health during cancer therapy. Improvement of overall well-being rather than cure for cancer is the aim of integrative approach towards palliative care patients. Many would agree integrative medicine is worth considering than practicing alternative rectal cancer treatments alone.

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    Potential Integrative Medicine - Not Just Alternative Rectal Cancer Treatment

    Acupuncture: It is found to be helpful for patients experiencing chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting, especially when used along with standard therapy. Pain due to peripheral neuropathy may be relieved by acupuncture as well.

    Aromatherapy: Using essential oils from herbs or plants to help in calming the stress. The odors help to relax the mind and are unlikely to cause harm.

    Herbs and Supplements: Natural product does not mean safe product. Caution must be practiced while using this as ingestion of the unprocessed herbal products may interact with the conventional treatment. In addition to that, certain supplements may exert additional burden to the liver to function properly. However, some herbs can help in reducing the unpleasant side effects of treatments. Peppermint and ginger are helpful in relieving the chemotherapy induced nausea.

    Mind-Body Therapies: Meditation and relaxation can ease pain; relieve stress by having guided imagery or visualization, relaxation with breathing exercises to increase the control over pain.

    Spiritual Healing: Patients with spiritual belief and support tend to cope better with stress and depression. Positive support from people from the same faith can be an important part of patient’s mental well-being.

    Irrigation and Enemas: Apparently it is done to remove the “toxins” and “clean up” the colon. While it is hard to get scientific literature to support it, patients who choose to carry out this without medical supervision may at risk to develop dehydration.

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    Conclusion - Do Involve the Medical Doctor in Choosing the Integrative Therapy

    A frank and honest discussion between the patient and doctor is crucial when integrative therapy is being considered. Ultimately, the doctor and patient share the same goal to have the best, safe and effective treatment for the cancer patient.

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    References:

    1) Colon Cancer Special Report, Alternative and Complementary Therapies for Colon Cancer, Johns Hopkins specialists discuss eight complementary therapies to ease symptoms of colon cancer.

    http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/reports/colon_cancer/1926-1.html

    2) Alternative Rectal Cancer Treatments - Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)

    http://www.cancercenter.com/about-us.cfm

    3) No complementary or alternative treatments have been found to cure colon cancer - Mayo Clinic

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colon-cancer/DS00035/DSECTION=alternative-medicine