- How is childhood leukemia treated?
- Immediate treatment of childhood leukemia
- Surgery for childhood leukemia
- Radiation treatment for childhood leukemia
- Chemotherapy for childhood leukemia
- Targeted therapy for childhood leukemia
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for childhood leukemia
- Treatment of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Treatment of children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Treatment of children with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)
- Treatment of children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)
- Treatment of children with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Clinical trials for childhood leukemia
- Complementary and alternative therapies for childhood leukemia
Complementary and alternative therapies for childhood leukemia
You might hear about ways to treat leukemia or relieve symptoms that your doctor hasn’t mentioned. Everyone from friends and family to social media groups and websites may offer ideas for what might help. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
What are complementary and alternative therapies?
Not everyone uses these terms the same way, and they are used to refer to many different methods. We use complementary to refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment.
Complementary methods: Most complementary treatment methods are not offered as cures for cancer. Mainly, they are used to help people feel better. Some examples of methods used along with regular treatment are: art therapy or play therapy to reduce stress, acupuncture to help relieve pain, or peppermint tea to relieve nausea. Some complementary methods are known to help, while others have not been tested. Some have been proven not to be helpful, and a few might even be harmful.
Alternative treatments: Alternative treatments may be offered as cancer cures. These treatments have not been proven safe and effective in clinical trials. Some of these methods may be harmful, or have life-threatening side effects. But the biggest danger in most cases is that your child could lose the chance to be helped by standard medical treatment. Delaying or interrupting your child’s medical treatments may give the cancer more time to grow and make it less likely that treatment will help.
Finding out more
It’s easy to see why parents who have children with cancer think about alternative methods. You want to do all you can to fight the cancer, and the idea of a treatment with no few or no side effects sounds great. Sometimes medical treatments like chemotherapy can be hard to take, or they may no longer be working. But the truth is that most alternative methods have not been tested and proven to work in treating cancer.
As you consider your options, look for “red flags” that might suggest fraud. Does the method promise to cure all or most cancers? Are you told not to have regular medical treatments? Is the treatment a “secret” that requires you to visit certain providers or travel to another country? Also be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using.
You can find more tips on what to look for and how to make these decisions in the “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” section of our website.
The choice is yours
You always have a say in how your child is treated. If you want to consider a non-standard treatment, learn all you can about the method and talk to your child’s doctor about it. With good information and the support of your child’s health care team, you may be able to safely use the methods that can help your child while avoiding those that could be harmful.
Last Medical Review: 05/13/2015
Last Revised: 05/13/2015