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Breast Cancer Surgery

Integrative and complementary therapies

What are integrative and complementary therapies?

These include different healing approaches and therapies not considered to be standard medical treatments.

  • Standard medical treatments are scientifically-tested and researched and include treatments such as radiation, surgery, and systemic treatment (such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy). These treatments are used by doctors to treat people with cancer.
  • Complementary medicine is used along with standard medical treatments. It is meant to help relieve symptoms or side effects, or boost emotional or physical health.

Talk to your surgeon, oncologist, or family doctor if you are thinking about using complementary therapies or if you have any questions or problems. Check with your pharmacist or registered dietitian to see if there are possible interactions with medications or supplements.

Does my healthcare team need to know if I am using integrative or complementary therapies?

Yes. Tell your doctor or nurse about anything you are taking or using. Some complementary therapies interact with other medicine you take and may make your treatment less effective.

It’s always best to talk to your healthcare team before you start any additional treatments or therapies. These include things like:

  • pills
  • vitamins
  • massage
  • hyperbaric oxygen treatment
  • injections
  • herbal remedies
  • acupuncture
  • cannabis

Are there natural health products I can take during treatment?

  • You can take a regular strength multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Choose a brand that is made for your age group. The supplement should have small doses of a wide variety of nutrients (high doses are not recommended).
  • Other natural health products are not recommended for 1 month after you finish your treatments and, when possible, for 1 month before you start treatment.

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