treatment for melanoma (and in general) is based on science. Research and
studies provide evidence and insight as to how effective certain courses of
treatment will be. Alternative approaches to conventional treatment are known
as complementary and alternative
medicine (CAM). CAM therapies
are directed at alleviating stress and pain, rather than aimed at curing the
growing interest in CAM, the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (OCCAM) was established in 1998 to oversee CAM research within the
National Cancer Institute (NCI).
important to understand the basic definitions of these methods.
- Complementary medicine: used in combination with standard treatment
- Alternative medicine: used instead of standard treatment
patients may look toward alternatives for a cure; however, CAM therapies do not
come with a guarantee of being safe and effective, and are susceptible to
scams. Promises of full cancer recovery should be regarded with suspicion. It is always wise to examine the pros and cons of any
type of alternative therapy, since certain treatments may have harmful effects
when combined with standard treatment.
Cancer Institute identifies a connection between diet and disease, stating
that, “serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year.”
This alarming number is made more alarming by the fact that many diseases are
preventable through smart lifestyle choices.
studies continue, eating certain foods may help fight skin cancer. Antioxidants appear to be a powerhouse
aimed at warding off the disease. Studies have also examined the role of fats
and proteins to prevent cancer, as well as plant-based spices including curcumin (found in turmeric) and different flavanoids (naturally-occurring
compounds in plant-based foods) found in apples, broccoli, tomatoes, and
grapes, among others.
Nutrition for Cancer Patients
nutrition is equally as vital for cancer patients. Nutrition therapy is a
technique of providing vital nutrients to help patients maintain a healthy body
weight and fight infection. The important distinction is that what’s considered
healthy according to regular dietary guidelines can be very different for
cancer patients. NCI points out that “some tumors make chemicals that change
the way the body uses certain nutrients.” Nutrition therapy aims to control
side effects due to medications or disease, while maintaining the patient’s
Treatment Centers of America offers recipe cards from qualified nutritionists,
to be used as an online tool or to print for patient records. These cards
provide healthy recipes that incorporate fish, vegetables, and other nutritious
options designed to create individual meal plans.
medicine incorporates natural therapies from various healing traditions, from the
use of herbal supplements to forms of body manipulation, such as massage and
What designates a naturopathic medicine?
As stated by
the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), methods must
meet the six principles of naturopathic healing,
- Healing Power of Nature
- Identify and Treat the Cause
- First Do No Harm
- Doctor as Teacher
- Treat the Whole Person
medicines are plant-based medicines which can be taken in the form of teas or
capsules. Green tea has long been
hailed for its health benefits, sipped for various healing properties, from
cancer to arthritis. Packed with powerful antioxidants, green tea may prevent
skin tumors from forming.
acupressure are directed at lessening pain in cancer patients rather than
serving as a treatment method. Acupuncture involves the technique of inserting
needles at key point of the body, while acupressure is the method of using the
hands at the body’s specific pressure points.
University of Maryland Medical Center cites a “generally excellent” prognosis
of basal cell carcinoma from the application of acupuncture; “excellent” for
squamous cell carcinoma. For malignant melanoma, the prognosis varies. If the
melanoma is detected early, there is a 100 percent five-year survival rate. But
melanomas that have spread tend to have a lower prognosis.
involves the use of warm or cool water to alleviate pain. The water may include
forms like steam baths or ice packs. To help patients cope with pain,
applications of warm water relax the muscles while ice water can lessen
inflammation, constricting blood vessels.
Cancer Society warns that “hydrotherapy has not been proven to work in slowing the
growth or spread of cancer.” Soothing saunas and applications of water to the
body may offer benefits in the form of relaxed state of mind and decreased pain
from sore joints.
reducing symptoms and improving overall health, homeopathic medicine is based
on the principle of treating symptoms with substances that produce similar
patients may benefit from manipulation of the body to help manage chronic pain.
In cases of melanoma in which the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, for
example, patients can benefit from the strength training and stretching of
highly recommended for melanoma patients to maintain a healthy body weight and
keep energy levels high. Walking, or participating in low-impact activities
such as yoga, for about half an hour, three to four days a week, will improve
the benefits of yoga’s poses and emphasis on breathing can help reduce stress.
Meditation is another mind-body method that may relieve stress surrounding
refers to a cluster of techniques, most dating back to Eastern spiritual roots.
Contemporary society tends to use meditation for health-related purposes,
focusing on de-stressing and improving health. In CAM terminology, meditation
is used to examine the relationship between emotional, mental, and behavioral
factors and one’s health.
are various forms of mediation, many of them share common characteristics,
including limiting distractions, maintaining an open, non-judgmental attitude,
and finding a comfortable posture to establish focus.