4.5 Complementary or alternative therapies

4.5 Complementary or alternative therapies

The lead clinician should discuss the patient’s use (or intended use) of complementary or alternative therapies not prescribed by the MDT to identify any potential toxicity or drug interactions.

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

Many 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 patient.

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

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

Further information