Complementary therapies

When you are diagnosed with head and neck cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your treatment options. This may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These are known as conventional treatments.

Complementary therapies are treatments that can be used alongside the conventional treatment recommended by your doctor.

Alternative therapies are treatments that are used instead of conventional medicine. Using alternative therapies instead of the conventional treatment recommended by your doctor can be harmful. There is no scientific evidence to show that alternative therapies are effective.

It is very important that you speak with your doctor about any complementary therapies, or other therapies that you are using or thinking about using. Some can interfere with your cancer treatment and can mean the treatments may not work as well or you may have more or different side effects.

What complementary therapies could I have?

Complementary therapies aim to treat the ‘whole person’ and not just the symptoms of head and neck cancer. They can also help you with specific symptom management.

Examples of complementary therapies used in head and neck cancer are:

  • acupuncture

  • massage

  • meditation and relaxation.

You may choose to use some complementary therapies to reduce your side effects, help you feel more relaxed and improve your mood.

Where can I find support?

Your doctor may be able to recommend complementary therapy providers they have worked with in the past such as complementary therapy practitioners, massage therapists and acupuncturists.