Complementary and alternative therapies cover many forms of non–traditional treatment, and have been used by some people with prostate cancer. Complementary medicine and alternative therapies are not the same. Complementary therapies are usually used alongside conventional medicines. However, alternative therapies are used instead of conventional medicine and are generally untested. 

Some men with prostate cancer may use complementary therapies alongside conventional prostate cancer treatments to help them cope with cancer symptoms or side effects from treatments, and to improve their quality of life.

If you are thinking about using complementary therapies, it is important that you use safe and proven therapies and not therapies that are unproven, possibly harmful and promoted as alternatives or substitutes for conventional medicine. Talk with members of your healthcare team about this. There is evidence to show that physical activity, meditation, yoga and acupuncture can help with managing the physical and emotional symptoms of cancer. It is important that you speak with your healthcare team if you are thinking of using complementary therapies because they will be able to advise you which ones could be useful for you, and ones that would not interfere with your prescribed conventional medicines. 

Listed below are some questions you may want to ask members of your healthcare team about complementary therapies:

  • What are the useful complementary therapies for me?
  • How will they help me?
  • What is the evidence to show they work?
  • Do they have side effects? What are they?
  • Will they interfere with the conventional prostate cancer treatment I am having or want to have?
  • What are the financial costs of the complementary therapies being suggested?

For more information about the use of complementary therapies, see Understanding complementary therapies – a guide for people with cancer, their families and friends (Cancer Council NSW).