Review: Other Therapies

Alternative therapies, also called unconventional, nontraditional, complementary, unproven, or holistic, are approaches that differ from the conventional medical treatments.

The major appeal of alternative treatments to cancer patients is the promise of cure claimed by the salespeople. In fact, these treatments have not been held to the same standards of proof of safety and effectiveness as have the conventional drugs and treatments prescribed by physicians.

Views about alternative cancer therapies vary greatly. There are firm believers, as well as staunch disbelievers, of these unconventional therapies. While many of these approaches fall far short of the results promised by their practitioners, some scientists still believe that some of the alternative treatments are worthy of serious study. Some of them are even being used alongside conventional treatments.

A blinded (or masked) clinical trial is a field study of a drug in which the recipient does not know if he is receiving the actual drug versus a placebo.

The placebo effect is the measurable or observable effect on a person or group that has been given a placebo treatment.