4.6 Complementary or alternative therapies

4.6 Complementary or alternative therapies

The lead clinician should broach the woman’s use (or intended use) of complementary or alternative therapies not prescribed by the multidisciplinary team to discuss safety and efficacy and identify any potential toxicity or drug interactions.

The lead clinician should seek a comprehensive list of all complementary and alternative medicines being taken and explore the woman’s reason for using these therapies and the evidence base.

Most alternative therapies and some complementary therapies have not been assessed for efficacy or safety. Some have been studied and found to be harmful or ineffective.

Some complementary therapies may assist in some cases, and the treating team should be open to discussing the potential benefits for the individual.

If the woman expresses an interest in using complementary therapies, the lead clinician should consider referring them to health professionals within the multidisciplinary team who have knowledge of complementary and alternative therapies (such as a clinical pharmacist, dietitian or psychologist) to help her reach an informed decision.

The lead clinician should assure women who use complementary or alternative therapies that they can still access multidisciplinary team reviews (NBCC & NCCI 2003) and encourage full disclosure about therapies being used (Cancer Australia 2010).

Further information