Some people turn to alternative medicine, including certain medicinal herbs (see see Overview of Medicinal Herbs and Nutraceuticals), to treat their cancer, instead of or in addition to standard treatment. However, most types of alternative medicine have not been subjected to careful scientific studies. Thus, very little is known about the effectiveness of alternative medicine in treating cancer.
Although benefits of alternative medicine for cancer have not been scientifically proven, there is significant potential for harm because
People using alternative medicine should inform their doctor. Hiding the use of alternative medicine could be harmful.
Last full review/revision September 2013 by Bruce A. Chabner, MD; Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH