Alternative Treatments For Breast Cancer May Do More Harm Than Good

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Alternative Treatments For Breast Cancer May Do More Harm Than Good
Alternative Treatments For Breast Cancer May Do More Harm Than Good

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Alternative treatments for breast cancer may do more harm than good

Herbal remedies as alternative and complementary treatments for skin damage in cancer patients do more harm than good. There is little evidence of their benefits, but they can interfere with standard treatment.

Alternative treatments for breast cancer may do more harm than good
Alternative treatments for breast cancer may do more harm than good

Photo: CCPD / CC0 /

Herbal remedies as alternative and complementary treatments for skin damage in cancer patients do more harm than good. Maria João Cardoso, lead surgeon at the Portuguese Cancer Center Champalimo, spoke about this at the International Breast Cancer Conference in Lisbon.

In one in five cases, breast cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the skin, causing painful and disfiguring lesions. A growing number of people are trying to cope with this problem on their own, turning to additional medicines and folk remedies. However, experts warn that such therapy could interfere with systemic cancer treatments (hormonal and chemotherapy) and slow wound healing.

“It is very important that patients always consult their doctors before trying additional treatments for cancers that have spread to the skin. Many patients do not tell their doctors about their use of complementary therapies,”says Maria João Cardoso.

The number and variety of herbal products available is enormous, but there is no evidence of their effectiveness. Moreover, many self-medication methods have a negative impact on cancer therapy. This is especially true of herbal products in topical creams, which slow healing, provoke scarring and reduce the effectiveness of current systemic treatments.

According to laboratory studies, plant-based ingredients such as green chiretta, tansy, garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hawthorn, horse chestnut and turmeric, among others, adversely affect blood clotting.

“While the primary concern of physicians is to understand the biology, scale and medical history of their patients, the scourge of visible and disfiguring lesions, pain, odor and all the psychological impact on patients and their loved ones cannot be underestimated. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that patients and their caregivers are looking for complementary or alternative treatments that could make a difference. But in the end, they can do more harm than good,”said Maria João Cardoso.

On the other hand, in her opinion, there are additional methods of treatment aimed at relieving psychological stress caused by unsightly metastases on the skin, which have no contraindications and positively affect the quality of life of patients - meditation, acupuncture and yoga. But we should not forget that these methods are not an alternative to anticancer therapy, but only a type of psychological assistance. As we wrote earlier, alternative cancer treatments greatly reduce the survival rate of cancer patients.

“The outcome of treatment, especially in the most difficult cases such as visually visible cancers, depends on the effectiveness of the available treatments, the commitment of multidisciplinary teams, and patient engagement and education on do-and-go. It is important to remember the highest goal in medicine - do no harm,”concluded Cardoso.

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