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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Mind and Body Approaches for Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

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October 2018
Cancer woman child

   

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer use complementary health approaches. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 65 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary health approaches. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.

Findings from a substantial amount of research suggest that some mind and body approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga may help to manage some cancer symptoms and side effects of treatment. This issue of the digest provides a summary of available research on mind and body health approaches for cancer-related symptoms and treatment side effects.

Modality and Summary of Current Research

Available data suggest that for people undergoing cancer treatment, acupuncture can help to manage chemotherapeutic-induced nausea and vomiting. There isn’t enough evidence to determine whether acupuncture relieves cancer pain or other symptoms such as treatment-related hot flashes or xerostomia.

Read more about the research on acupuncture for cancer symptoms and treatment side effects >

Some studies suggest that massage therapy might help with pain and anxiety in people with cancer. However, research findings have not been consistent.

Read more about the research on massage for cancer symptoms and treatment side effects >

There is evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation training, can help cancer patients cope with stress.

Read more about the research on mindfulness-based stress reduction for cancer symptoms and treatment side effects >

Studies in women with breast cancer show that yoga may reduce fatigue and sleep disturbances, reduce depression and anxiety, and improve the quality of life. Most yoga studies have focused on women with breast cancer; much less is known about yoga for people with other types of cancer. 

Read more about the research on yoga for cancer symptoms and treatment side effects >

Results of some studies suggest that hypnosis may help manage pain, anxiety, and distress in patients who are having cancer-related procedures such as biopsies or surgery.

Read more about the research on hypnosis for cancer symptoms and treatment side effects >

Scientific Literature

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at nccih.nih.gov. NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

Copyright

Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

This page last modified October 30, 2018