Complementary and alternative treatments for children's cancers
Many people use complementary treatments to help maintain their health.
People with cancer may use them to manage side effects and improve their sense of well-being. Alternative treatments are unconventional therapies that aim to treat cancer.
If you’re interested in your child using a complementary or alternative treatment, it’s important to discuss it with your child (if they’re old enough to understand) and with your child’s doctor first. Some alternative medicines can interact and interfere with conventional treatment.
From time to time you may see claims for a new ‘wonder cure’ in the newspapers, on the internet or on television. Occasionally, the reports are about genuine developments in cancer treatment by reputable people, and the doctors at your child’s hospital will usually know something about them. However, some reports can be misleading and give false claims for success.
If you have questions about the value of these ‘cures’, you can discuss them with your child’s doctor. Don’t worry that they will be offended by your questions. They will take you seriously and give you honest advice.
The doctors working in specialist children’s hospitals know about treatments and research going on in other specialist hospitals that aim to cure children’s cancers. So if any better treatment becomes available, they will be aware of it and can change a child’s treatment to include the new treatment. There’s also close contact with specialist hospitals and healthcare staff in other countries, so all hospitals are kept up-to-date with any progress on new treatments.
Health and activities during treatment
While having treatment, your child should be able to continue with many of their usual activities if they feel able to. But it's important to be aware of some basic precautions. The hospital staff will give you guidance on anything your child should or shouldn’t do, or anything you need to know related to your child’s treatment.
The CCLG can send you a booklet called Sport and exercise for children and young people with cancer. It gives practical advice about sport and exercise, both during and after treatment.
While your child is having cancer treatment, you should avoid giving them any other drugs or medicines without first discussing them with the doctors. This includes any complementary or alternative treatments. While your child is having treatment they should not have any vaccinations or immunisations unless recommended by your principal treatment centre.