Finding further information on complementary and alternative therapies | Cancer Research UK
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Finding further information on complementary and alternative therapies

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about finding further information on complementary and alternative therapies when you have cancer. There is information about


Asking your doctors and nurses

Always ask your doctors and nurses about whether any complementary or alternative cancer therapy you are thinking of using might interact with your other treatments. If your treatment team don’t have the information you need they can direct you to other people who can help. 

You may also find the following sections of this website useful


Written information (books, leaflets and journals)

Other sources of written information on complementary and alternative therapies include books, leaflets and booklets, and medical journals.


There are various books about complementary and alternative therapies. Many of these are specific to cancer. But they aren’t all reliable. It can be very difficult to work out which ones are reputable.

Be wary of books that claim an alternative therapy can cure cancer. Also be carful about believing stories about people who say that they cured their cancer using a specific type of diet, vitamin or dietary supplement. This may true in very rare individual cases. But unless there have been clinical trials using the therapy in a large number of people, we can't be sure that the therapy alone cured cancer.

If you are looking for books on this subject it may help to use the same advice we give in our useful tips for looking for information on the internet

You can also look at our complementary therapy reading list.

Leaflets and booklets

There is a useful guide called I've got nothing to lose by trying it from an organisation called Sense About Science. They are a charitable trust who help the public to make sense of science and evidence. Their guide, produced with support from Cancer Research UK, aims to help you weigh up claims about cures and treatments for medical conditions. It covers things you can do, from getting involved in clinical trials to finding good evidence based information.

Several reputable cancer organisations produce general information leaflets or booklets about using complementary therapies or alternative cancer therapies. These are listed on our complementary therapies reading list.

Medical journals

Some medical journals have published research into complementary and alternative therapies. These journals are generally aimed at health professionals or researchers working in this area. But you may find they help to show you what is available and what research work is going on. The following general medical journals publish papers about cancer and complementary therapies

  • The Lancet
  • The Lancet Oncology
  • The Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • The British Journal of Cancer
  • Annals in Oncology
  • European Journal of Oncology Nursing

Some medical journals devote their content just to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – for example,

Most medical journals are now available online. You usually have to pay to have full access to each journal. But if you would like to view an abstract from a specific paper you can do this by searching


Useful organisations

Many cancer organisations give information about complementary and alternative therapies.

Some specific organisations also devote their time to providing information or doing research into complementary and alternative therapies, such as

These organisations are not specific to cancer but they provide information to health professionals and the public about integrated health care.

The professional organisations for individual therapies can give you information about complementary therapies. 

Our complementary therapies organisations page also has a list of useful organisations that can give you information.

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Updated: 24 October 2014