Nothing may be more frightening than hearing your doctor tell you, “You have cancer.” Your fear may quickly turn to anger if you learn that the cancer could have been diagnosed much sooner.
In your search for answers about why a delayed cancer diagnosis occurred in your case, it will be important to seek the help of an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we are available to meet with you right away to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation.
In the meantime, you should also be seeking the best cancer treatment options available to you. Most patients, of course, turn to traditional treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. This generally is referred to as standard medicine.
However, a growing number of cancer patients in New York and across the country are exploring complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment options as well.
The following is a brief overview of those options. We also discuss what you should consider as you decide whether CAM treatment is right for you.
Of course, we believe the most important consideration is the need to research and discuss with your doctor any CAM option before you start treatment.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Options for Cancer Patients
In a special publication, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) identifies three general categories of cancer treatment that fall outside of standard medicine. Those categories are:
- Complementary medicine – Treatment used along with standard medicine
- Alternative medicine – Treatment used instead of standard medicine
- Integrative medicine – Treatment involving a total (holistic) approach.
According to the NCI, these treatments can be used to treat cancer and to deal with the side effects of traditional cancer treatment. They can also be used to cope with the stress and anxiety that a patient may experience after being diagnosed with cancer.
The NCI breaks these CAM treatment options into five specific categories:
As WebMD describes, mind-body therapy is complementary in nature. It can help a cancer patient to deal with side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and medication such as pain, fatigue and nausea.
The different treatments within this category are all based on the premise that the health of one’s mind can impact the health of one’s body. Examples of mind-body therapy are:
- Art therapy
- Listening to music
- Enjoying nature
Generally speaking, these are not highly controversial forms of treatment. In fact, your doctor may even recommend that you engage in some form of mind-body therapy to help you to get through the difficulties that often arise when undergoing traditional forms of treatment.
Biologically Based Therapy
The Merck Manual defines this category as types of treatment that use “naturally occurring substances.” Examples include using:
- Food and special diets.
For instance, one biologically based cancer treatment involves consuming shark cartilage that has been ground into a fine powder or packaged as a liquid.
Another example is using an herbal remedy, St. Johns wort, to treat depression, anxiety, loss of appetite and sleeping difficulties.
Biologically based therapies, however, can be controversial. It starts with the fact that no herb, vitamin or food has ever been conclusively shown to cure or control the spread of cancer. You should take any products promise of a “cure” as a red flag.
The medical community generally warns against using these therapies as an alternative, rather than a complement, to standard cancer treatment options.
At the same time, doctors also urge caution when using certain products as a complement to standard therapy. For instance, some herbs can interact dangerously with cancer medication. They can also minimize the effectiveness of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Never start a biologically based form of cancer treatment without first discussing it with your doctor.
Manipulative and Body-Based Practices
As the NCI states, treatment methods within this category involve working on specific areas of the body in order to improve the body’s ability to cope with cancer and ease one’s tension and pain.
- Massage therapy which manipulates body tissue
- Reflexology that works on “pressure points” of the body
- Chiropractic care which manipulates one’s joints and skeletal system.
As BreastCancer.org notes, many studies have examined the use of massage, in particular, on cancer patients. Those studies have found many benefits, including the reduction of stress and the reduced need for pain medication.
According to the NCI, these types of treatments seek to improve one’s overall physical and mental well-being by tapping into the body’s “energy fields” or “frequencies.” The treatments involve moving one’s hands through those energy fields.
- Tai chi
- Therapeutic touch.
For instance, as the Mayo Clinic describes, tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that involves performing different sequences of slow, focused movements.
The movements are accompanied by deep breathing techniques. In addition to reducing one’s stress levels, tai chi can increase one’s flexibility and improve one’s strength, the clinic states.
Whole Medical Systems
Finally, cancer patients may turn to health systems from different cultures in order to address cancer symptoms and cope with side effects of treatment. The NCI states that examples are:
- Chinese medicine
- Ayurvedic medicine.
What these medical systems tend to have in common is striving for balance between mind and body and using techniques to heal the body naturally.
What You Should Consider Before Turning to CAM Treatment
As we stated above, it is crucial to thoroughly research and learn as much as you can about the different forms of CAM treatment that you are considering before you embark on any course of treatment.
You should also make sure to consult with your doctor – especially if you are considering using herbs or vitamins or starting a special diet.
You may be surprised to learn that your doctor supports using CAM treatments as a complement to the standard treatment you are receiving and may even provide suggestions or referrals.
We encourage you to check out the sources we have listed below to learn more.
Contact a New York Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Lawyer Today
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our medical malpractice attorneys want you to focus on your health after being diagnosed with cancer.
If you suspect that you have been harmed by a delayed diagnosis of cancer, we believe it will be crucial to your health to work with an experienced lawyer. While the lawyer focuses on protecting your legal rights and seeking compensation you are due, you can focus on getting the treatment you need – whether it is standard medicine, complementary or alternative medicine or a combination of both.
To discuss your case, please call us today or connect with us through our online form. We would be glad to provide you with a free and confidential consultation.
Sources / More Information
- Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Cancer Institute
- Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Merck Manual (Consumer Version)
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine, MayoClinic.com
- Mind-Body Medicine for Cancer, WebMD
- Massage, BreastCancer.org
- Tai Chi: A Gentle Way to Fight Stress, MayoClinic.com