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Alternative therapies

What are alternative therapies?

Alternative therapies are products or treatments that are used instead of conventional medical treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapies.

Alternative therapies are very different from complementary medicines or complementary therapies, which are used in addition to conventional medical treatments.

Not scientifically proven

It’s important to understand that alternative therapies have not been scientifically proven and there is no credible evidence that they are effective in treating breast cancer. Some alternative therapies are, however, marketed as being a ‘cure’ for cancer. They are often very expensive, and can cost thousands of dollars.

While we believe that all women have the right to choose the treatments that will best suit them, BCNA does not support the use of alternative therapies. We support the use of evidence-based, best-practice treatments that are recommended in the clinical practice guidelines for the management of breast cancer.

Should I use an alternative therapy?

Using an alternative therapy instead of conventional breast cancer treatment is a personal choice. However, it is best to discuss any alternative therapies with your doctor and family. If you don’t feel comfortable raising this with your treating doctor, you may prefer to talk to another member of your treating team.

Questions to ask about alternative therapies

If you are considering using an alternative therapy instead of a conventional treatment option, you may like to ask the following questions:

  • How will this help me?
  • Will this therapy interfere with any of the medicines I am taking for other health conditions?
  • Is it okay to take this alternative therapy at the same time as my other medicine, or should I take it at a different time?
  • Will I have any side effects from this alternative therapy?
  • What do I do if I experience any of the side effects?
  • How long should I use this alternative therapy and how will I know if it’s working?
  • Who will provide me with the alternative therapy?
  • What qualification, training and experience does the alternative therapist have?
  • What is the cost of the alternative therapy?
  • Is the alternative therapy covered by private health insurance?

What should I do if I experience any side effects?

Talk to your doctor right away if you experience any adverse side effects after taking an alternative therapy.

More information

Find out more about using alternative therapies in the following resources: