Elio Rossi, Mariella Di Stefano, Fabio Firenzuoli, Maria Valeria Monechi and Sonia Baccetti

Add-On Complementary Medicine in Cancer Care: Evidence in Literature and Experiences of Integration

Medicines, 2017, 4 (1), 5

Background: According to the literature an increasing number of cancer patients demand for complementary therapies during their disease. Research has demonstrated that some of these therapies are effective and safe as adjunctive treatments in specific symptoms of these patients. Methods: The aims of the paper are to review the main and recent papers of international literature on the effectiveness of complementary medicine (CM) therapies on side effects of anti-cancer protocols and improvement in the quality of life of oncological patients, and to describe the integration of evidence-based acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy treatments in Public Cancer Network of the region of Tuscany. Results: After the review of literature and the approval of a Regional Resolution, some CM will be introduced in Cancer Departments in Tuscany to additionally treat cancer-related symptoms and side effects of conventional cancer therapy: acupuncture for nausea and post-chemotherapy and post-surgery vomiting, pain, hot flashes of iatrogenic menopause, xerostomia; homeopathy for hot flashes of iatrogenic menopause and the side effects of radiotherapy; herbal medicine for cancer-related fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, mucositis, anxiety, and depression. Conclusions: The integration of evidence-based complementary treatments allows for an effective response to the demand coming from cancer patients and combines safety and equity of access in public health systems.

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