Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Questions about Complementary/Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson
What complementary/integrative treatments are recommended for my cancer?
The MD Anderson Cancer Center Complementary/Integrative Medicine Education Resources (CIMER) Web site does not make recommendations of specific complementary/integrative treatments. Rather, this Web site was created to assist patients and health care professionals in deciding what types of complementary medicine might be integrated into a patient's conventional therapy.
Our intent is to provide evidence-based reviews of complementary therapies, some of which may be beneficial for some patients. These reviews include research studies that have been published in the medical literature. Some, but not all, of these studies have had conclusive results. For this reason, these therapies are not recommended for use without consulting your physician.
What treatments has the CIMER Web site reviewed?
For a list of therapies reviewed by the MD Anderson Cancer Center CIMER Web site, go to Therapies. Reviews of specific therapies may then be accessed by selecting the linked heading of each of the following sections:
- Alternative Medical Systems
- Herbal/Plant Therapies
- Nutrition & Special Diets
- Manipulative & Body-Based Methods
- Mind-Body Approaches
- Energy Therapies
Are there any cautions or warnings about alternative therapies?
Yes! Some complementary agents or therapies may be useful for cancer patients; however, some may be harmful in certain situations. MD Anderson Cancer Center cautions patients to consult with their oncologist before attempting to use agents or therapies referenced on these pages. Inclusion of an agent, therapy or resource on this CIMER Web site does not imply endorsement by MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Can you refer me to a complementary/alternative medicine physician in my area?
The MD Anderson Cancer Center does not refer patients to physicians or practitioners of complementary/alternative therapies. A database of physicians who are knowledgeable about alternative therapies is maintained by the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in California (firstname.lastname@example.org). These physicians are not promoted by Commonweal. Rather, they have been recommended by cancer patients, and Commonweal shares the reports from patients about these physicians.
Does MD Anderson Cancer Center have any programs in complementary medicine?
MD Anderson Cancer Center does have some programs involving complementary/integrative therapies. You may learn about these programs by going to Educational Programs & Events on the CIMER Web site or to the Place ... of wellness.
Does MD Anderson have any information on clinical trials in complementary medicine?
What types of complementary/integrative medicine programs does MD Anderson have available for patients?
To learn more about complementary/integrative medicine, you can visit the Web site for the Place ... of wellness (or see Mind-Body Approaches on this Web site).
The Place ... of wellness was the first of its kind in a comprehensive cancer center, providing an environment where all people touched by cancer may enhance their lives through programs that complement medical care and focus on the healing abilities of the mind, body and spirit.
What questions should I ask a complementary/alternative medicine practitioner?*
For any treatment, we recommend that you ask the provider the following questions:
- Can this treatment:
- Support the immune or other systems of the patient?
- Counteract the cancer?
- Enable the conventional treatment to work better?
- Relieve symptoms or side effects?
- What are the training and credentials of the provider?
- Does the provider believe in this treatment because he/she has seen benefits with similar patients?
- If so, would it be possible to speak to some of these patients?
- Have results of this treatment been published in any recognized medical journals?
- Can the provider give you any references published by others?
- What is the treatment?
- How will you know that the therapy is or is not working?
- Are there potential side effects?
- Is the provider willing to communicate with the patient’s primary care physician?
*Adapted from recommended questions by the American Cancer Society and from the article, Recommendations to M.D.s on Counseling Patients’ Use of Alternative Medicine, by David Eisenberg. Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 127, No. 1, pp. 61-69.
What should I do if an adverse event happens with herbal medicine?
Contact your physician first and/or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Medwatch, medical products reporting program at 1-800-FDA-1088. If this is an emergency situation, dial 911 and/or consult with the Poison Control Center in your area; Houston/Galveston area is at 1-800-764-7661.
Where can I find additional information not available on your Web site?
For a list of other Web sites, books and contacts, go to Resources and Links. This section includes, but is not limited to:
- A link to clinical trials currently approved by the National Cancer Institute (select 'Cancer Information' and 'Clinical Trials')
- Books on complementary/integrative therapies and nutrition for cancer and information on physicians who are knowledgeable in or using alternative/complementary therapies, found by visiting Commonweal Cancer Help Program or other referral agencies within the Resources and Links section
- The link for the American Cancer Society
- The link for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
How can I obtain training in herbal medicine?
MD Anderson Cancer Center does not offer courses or training in herbal medicine. Our institution provides training in conventional treatment approaches, basic science and research methodology that could be applied to the evaluation of these modalities. Schools that offer training in herbal therapy may be located through the American Botanical Council.
Does the MD Anderson Cancer Center CIMER Web site have any job or study openings?
Currently, the Integrative Medicine Program has an open position for a senior health education specialist. Please apply online at MD Anderson’s Careers Web site.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institute of Health has postdoctoral training programs in CAM that are funded during the regular grant application cycles.