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(8) Cancer Symptoms & Treatment

Ovarian Cancer Treatment Testimonial Alternative Holistic Health Care (Video)

Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine - National Cancer Institute

CST8

How do I decide whether to use one of the complementary or alternative therapies that my family or friends is recommending?

Before beginning treatment with any complementary or alternative therapy, obtain as much information as you can about it.

 Here are some specific questions to consider:

• Do the promises sound too good to be true, such as promises that are inconsistent with the information you are receiving from your doctor or from other sources of information?

• What evidence supports the claims of effectiveness? Were scientific, rigorously controlled clinical trials conducted? Or is the evidence only anecdotal, that is, based on the author’s personal experience or claims of satisfied customers?

• What are the risks of using this treatment? What is the evidence regarding safety? How are data collected to evaluate safety?

• If someone is providing the therapy, what are the person’s qualifications, certifications, or licenses? Some practitioners are now licensed by state medical boards or accredited by professional organizations.

• Is the source of information about the therapy also the seller? If so, the seller may have a vested interest in convincing you to purchase the product.

Two Internet sites provide tips to help with decisions about using a complementary or alternative therapy:

• National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health: www.nccam.nih.gov/health/decisions/index.htm

• Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/Food/

Before making a final decision about the use of any complementary or alternative therapy, discuss your thoughts and intentions with your doctor. Many of these therapies can be used safely with the traditional treatments you are receiving. However, some can interfere

with your treatment, cause serious side effects when combined with your treatment, or may actually be harmful.

Before making a final decision about the use of any complementary or alternative therapy,

discuss your thoughts and intentions with your doctor.

How can I evaluate information on the nternet to be sure it is complete, accurate, and up-to-date?

 Pete’s comment:

The sheer amount of information on the Internet can be intimidating and confusing. By concentrating on several credible and reputable sites, I get good background data, which increase my knowledge without overwhelming me. I  also find that cancer center websites are a good source of information. If I have questions, I refer to my oncology team for clarification.

The Internet has created the opportunity for you to get instant access to an enormous amount of information without ever leaving your home. However, because the information posted on the Internet is not controlled or regulated, a great deal of it may not   be accurate.

When viewing a site, a number of things can help you determine whether it is reliable and likely to have complete, accurate, and up-to-date information:

• Ownership or sponsorship of the site: The owner or sponsor of the site pays for it to be maintained. The owner or sponsor may be a government agency, a nonprofit organization, a medical center or hospital, a pharmaceutical company, or an individual. The sponsor can influence what content is presented.

Consider whether the sponsor may benefit by presenting a biased point of view.

• Purpose of the site: Click on “About this site.” The site’s purpose should be clearly stated and will help determine whether it has a particular point of view.

• Editorial board: Many sites have an editorial board that reviews all the information posted. Review the list of people on the editorial board, and check their credentials and affiliations to be sure they are medically qualified to make these decisions.

• Source of information: The authors of the information should be identified. Review their credentials and affiliations to be sure they are truly experts in the field. If the information is obtained from other sources, these also should be acknowledged.

• Evidence: References to scientific research findings and published articles that back up the information should be included.

• The date information was updated: The site should include a statement indicating the date the information was last reviewed and updated. Medical information must be current to be useful.

• Privacy: The site may ask for information about you. If so, it should clearly state how the information will be used and how your privacy will be protected.

Before acting on any information you have obtained from the Internet, discuss what you have found and what you are considering with your doctor.

 Because the information posted on the Internet is not controlled or regulated, a great deal of it may not be accurate.

 I feel so overwhelmed by all the information I’m getting. How do I make decisions about my treatment?

Pete’s comment:

After receiving my lung cancer diagnosis, my wife and I were overwhelmed.We decided to take it one step at a time and move slowly. The first thing we felt was necessary was to get a second opinion at another institution. Our primary concern was being comfortable with the oncologist and his medical team. We also were very aware of the proximity of the potential treatment center and if the treatment was covered by my medical insurance.

After being diagnosed with cancer, one of the most stressful periods of time is when you have to make decisions about your treatment. A number of things can help you sort out the available options and select the best one for you.

First, be sure you have all the relevant information. Are you clear about your clinical situation and the choices being presented to you?

Second, be sure you have seen all the treating specialists to hear their recommendations directly. Internists (physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults) or surgeons can provide you with direction, but they will not be able to give you detailed information about chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

If these treatments are being recommended, schedule appointments with a medical oncologist (who prescribes chemotherapy) and a radiation oncologist (who prescribes radiation therapy). Clarify with each doctor the goals of treatment. Also ask about the potential side effects or risks of treatment.

This approach will help you weigh the choices for yourself. Once you are clear on the options posed by your doctors, consider whether it would be worthwhile to obtain a second opinion, perhaps with a specialist at an academic center or comprehensive cancer center. Doctors who specialize in treating particular types of cancer have more experience with this disease and may have a different perspective about treatment. In addition, they may be able to offer you treatment on a clinical trial.

Have a family member or friend accompany you to all these appointments. They can provide a second set of ears to hear the information presented and take notes for you while the doctors are speaking.

When you get home, you will also have someone to review all the information with you to be sure you understand it correctly.

In making your final treatment decision, consider several other factors. Financial issues are important.

• What are the costs of the various treatment options, including treatment on a clinical trial?

• Does your health insurance cover treatment by any doctor or only by doctors affiliated with your health insurance plan?

• Will treatment on a clinical trial be covered?

• What percentage of the costs will be reimbursed to you and what will be the out-of-pocket expenses? Logistical issues are also important.

• Where would you have to go for treatment?

• Will it be easy to get back and forth, or will you have to travel long distances or even relocate to a different city for a period of time?

Finally, consider your emotional reactions to the doctors you have met.

• Did you feel you could trust the doctor and his or her medical team?

• Did you feel you were given adequate time to have all your questions answered?

• Did you feel treated respectfully and courteously by the staff in the office?

It is important to feel comfortable with the doctor you choose, because the two of you will be partners in the journey that lies ahead.

In the end, it comes down to you. Consider everything about your current life situation: how old you are; your general state of health; your responsibilities to your family and work; the emotional, physical, and financial costs of treatment; and all that you may possibly gain from treatment. The most difficult part of this process is that there is no right decision other than the one that feels right to you.

Term:

Internists - Physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults.

There is no right decision other than the one that feels right to you

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