Alternative and complementary therapies range from herbal remedies, vitamin supplements, and special diets to spiritual practices, acupuncture, massage, and similar treatments. When these therapies are used in addition to conventional medicine, they are called complementary therapies. When they are used instead of conventional medicine, they are called alternative therapies.
Complementary or alternative therapies are widely used by people with cancer. One large study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in July, 2000 found that 83% of all cancer patients studied used some form of complementary or alternative medicine as part of their cancer treatment. No specific alternative therapies have been directed toward laryngeal cancer. However, good nutrition and activities that reduce stress and promote a positive view of life have no unwanted side-effects and appear to be beneficial in boosting the immune system in fighting cancer.
Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, complementary and alternative therapies are not evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for either safety or effectiveness. These therapies may have interactions with traditional pharmaceuticals. Patients should be wary of "miracle cures" and notify their doctors if they are using herbal remedies, vitamin supplements or other unprescribed treatments. Alternative and experimental treatments normally are not covered by insurance.