Cancer therapies of CWM include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Although generally life-prolonging, they may have side effects that seriously affect a patient’s quality of life. Many people with cancer experience pain, anxiety, and mood disturbance. Conventional treatments do not always satisfactorily relieve these symptoms, and some patients may not be able to tolerate their side effects.
Cancer and its treatment typically evoke distress and emotional anguish. Patients experience fear of death, pain, disfigurement, disability, disruption of relationships, and many other distressing feelings. Depression is highly prevalent in cancer patients, where it is often under-diagnosed (Spiegel et al., 2003).
Pharmacologic interventions such as anxiolytics and anti-depressants are effective in ameliorating these symptoms, although side effects or suboptimal relief are experienced by some patients.
CAM such as acupuncture, mind-body techniques, and massage can relieve symptoms and improve physical and emotional well-being when used in conjunction with CWM. CAM can be used as low cost, convenient adjuncts to pharmacologic agents. Integrative medicine can be applied to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in the course of conventional cancer treatments (Dobos et al., 2012).