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Some women with ovarian cancer use complementary therapy to enhance their fight against the disease, as well as to relieve stress and lessen side effects, such as fatigue, pain, and nausea.

Complementary therapies is also known as integrative medicine. It includes natural products, mind and body practices and other approaches used along with standard medical treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many women have benefited from the complementary therapies.

Speaking with other women and to the healthcare team can help find complementary therapies that may be most helpful and appropriate for individual lifestyles. These include:

  • Acupuncture 
  • Aromatherapy
  • Herbal medicine
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Qi Gong (cheeGUNG)
  • Stress reduction
  • Yoga, Tai Chi

Safe use of complimentary therapy

There are questions about most complementary therapies that have not yet been answered through well­designed scientific studies, such as clinical trials. Before beginning any complementary therapy, it is important to discuss the approach with your healthcare team and complementary therapy practitioner.

Complimentary vs. alternative medicine

The difference between complementary therapies and alternative medicine is often confusing. As discussed earlier in this section, complementary and integrative therapies are used in addition to standard medical treatments. 

On the other hand, alternative therapies refers to a treatment method that is used in place of standard treatment. By definition, these treatments are not integrated as part of standard medicine, and have not been proven safe or effective and are not recommended. It’s important that doctors are informed about all therapies and medications being considered.  

Caution should be taken if alternative treatments are used in combination with standard therapies, as they may impact treatment outcomes. Additional information about complementary and alternative treatments can be found in the Ovarian Cancer Guide to Quality of Life Issues; to order, call ­888­-OVARIAN (888­-682­-7426).

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