About complementary and alternative therapies

The phrases complementary therapy and alternative therapy are often used as if they mean the same thing. They are sometimes combined into one phrase – complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs).

Talk to your cancer doctor, GP, or specialist nurse if you're considering using any complementary or alternative therapies. Some treatments may interact. Also let your complementary or alternative therapist know about your conventional cancer treatment.

The difference between complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs)

A complementary therapy means you can use it alongside your conventional medical treatment. It may help you to feel better and cope better with your cancer and treatment. An alternative therapy is generally used instead of conventional medical treatment.

Why people use complementary or alternative therapies

People often use complementary therapies to help them feel better and cope with having cancer and treatment. 

Where you can go to have complementary therapies

Find out where you can go to have complementary therapies.

The safety of complementary and alternative therapies

Some therapies may be harmful or could interact with other treatments you're having. Talk to your doctor before starting any complementary or alternative therapy.

Last reviewed: 
04 Apr 2022
Next review due: 
04 Apr 2025