You have many choices to make about your cancer treatment. One choice you might be thinking about is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). CAM is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Examples of CAM therapies are acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal medicines.
People with cancer may use CAM to:
- Help cope with the side effects of cancer treatments
- Ease worries of cancer treatment and related stress
- Feel that they are doing something more to help their own care
CAM treatments do not work for everyone. Some methods, such as acupuncture, might help with nausea, pain and other side effects of cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor to make sure that all aspects of your cancer care work together.
Finding a CAM practitioner
If you think you may have a health condition, first see your GP. Don't visit a CAM practitioner instead of seeing your GP.
It's particularly important to talk to your GP if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant. Some CAMs may interact with medicines that you are taking.
CAMs and regulation
The practice of conventional medicine is regulated by laws that ensure that practitioners are properly qualified, and adhere to certain standards or codes of practice. This is called statutory professional regulation.
Professionals of two complementary and alternative treatments – osteopathy and chiropractic – are regulated in the same way.
There is no statutory professional regulation of any other CAM practitioners.
Finding an osteopath or chiropractor
Osteopathy and chiropractic are regulated in the same way as conventional medicine
- All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council. You can use the General Osteopathic Council website to find a registered osteopath near you, or check if someone offering osteopathic services is registered
- All chiropractors must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council. You can use the General Chiropractic Council website to find a registered chiropractor near you, or to check if someone offering chiropractic services is registered
Finding other CAM practitioners
Apart from osteopathy and chiropractic, there is no professional statutory regulation of complementary and alternative treatments in the UK.
- It is legal for anyone to practise the treatment, even if they have no or limited formal qualifications or experience
- These practitioners are not legally required to adhere to any standards of practice or to join an association or register
- If you decide to use a CAM, it's up to you to find a practitioner who will carry out the treatment in a way that is acceptable to you