Document Type


Publication Date

November 2004


This article has been peer-reviewed. It was published in Seminars in Oncology 32:225-231, April 2005 (the published version is available at Copyright is retained by Elsevier, Inc.


Although advancements in cancer care have led to increased cure rates and survival times, those coping with the long-term sequelae of a cancer diagnosis often report high levels of distress, poor health-related quality of life, and unmet psychosocial needs. The shortcomings of the conventional biomedical system at sufficiently addressing these chronic illness issues are a primary reason that many patients turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Although patients usually use such treatments in addition to conventional care, they often do not discuss doing so with their conventional physicians, who are perceived as being unreceptive to the topic. Physicians may feel uninformed about CAM treatments, especially given the relatively small amount of data on the topic available in the medical literature. This article reviews a few CAM modalities commonly used by cancer survivors and those with chronic cancer illness, with a particular focus on familiarizing physicians with treatments that may potentially complement regular oncologic care by decreasing stress and enhancing health-related quality of life.