Go to OCA Home
Login to your account

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Many women with ovarian cancer are interested in trying complementary therapies. These are natural therapies used alongside mainstream/conventional cancer treatments (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy), which aim to treat both mind and body. Examples of commonly used complementary therapies include massage, mindfulness meditation and acupuncture.

These therapies have not been scientifically proven to treat or cure cancer. However, a few have been shown to help some people feel and cope better with their cancer and its treatments. They work on helping your mind and body feel better.  Carefully chosen complementary therapies can help to:

  • Manage symptoms and side effects – including nausea,

  • Hot flushes, dry mouth, pain and fatigue

  • Relieve stress, anxiety and sleeplessness

  • Encourage an overall feeling of wellbeing

What about alternative therapies?

Alternative therapies are quite different to complementary therapies. They are promoted as an alternative to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Alternative treatments are unproven, often expensive and may be harmful.

Be wary of any therapy claiming to cure cancer that is very expensive, requires you to stop conventional treatment or advises to not tell your doctor about the treatment.

Examples of alternative therapies include mega doses of vitamins such as high dose vitamin C, shark cartilage, restrictive special diets and juice fasting. There are many websites promoting so-called ‘cures for cancer’. They have not been scientifically proven to work. Always check with your medical team first.

More information:

Our Resilience Kit has more information about complementary therapies including the following:

  • Are all complementary therapies safe to use?

  • What about alternative therapies?

  • Which therapies might help?

  • Finding a therapist

Resilience Kit

For up-to-date, evidence based information on all aspects of living with ovarian cancer, and where to find support, download or order a free copy of our Resilience Kit

You may also find the following resources helpful:

  • Read the Cancer Council’s Understanding complementary therapies (www.cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20 for a free copy).

  • The Cancer Council’s Massage and cancer: an introduction to the benefits of touch (www.cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20 for a free copy) outlines the benefits of massage if you attend a qualified cancer massage therapist.

  • Read the Cancer Council’s Complementary and alternative medicine: making informed decisions (www.cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20 for a free copy).

  • Cancer Council NSW has two helpful CDs: Mindful meditation – for people with cancer and Relaxation – for people with cancer (www.cancercouncil.com.au).

Acknowledgement flags

Ovarian Cancer Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where our office is located, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.