Searching Therapies: Overview
Searching the BCCT Collection
Protocols and Alternative Medical Systems
Integrative protocols, treatment plans, regimens, and programs are the packages of therapies that clinicians use that combine and preferably integrate various therapies and products into a cohesive design for care. See more on our Protocols and Integrative Plans page.
Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems:
Many types of complementary approaches are used in cancer care, as itemized below. The BCCT website collection organizes information about these therapies by name, by type and in many instances by a particular protocol or medical system (at right).
Purpose of This Tool
This database has been designed to allow patients, caregivers and medical professional to access evidence-informed summaries of a variety of complementary approaches to managing cancer and its symptoms, including symptoms related to treatments. BCCT provides links to evidence and more in-depth reviews and investigations when possible.
How Therapies Are Selected
BCCT staff looked to these sources for input on therapies:
- Our advisors
- Alumni of the Commonweal and Smith Center Cancer Help Programs
- Scientific literature, especially reviews and meta-analyses
- News reports
From these, we have created a list of therapies supported by evidence for integration into conventional cancer treatment plans. We honed in on therapies that meet some combination of three criteria:
- Evidence-based or evidence-informed regarding efficacy and safety, or credible (which may differ from scientifically supported)
- Of interest to or used by patients and practitioners, or of potential future significance for the field
- Accessible and affordable
We have narrowed that list down to what we considered the most promising and/or interesting therapies for our expected users. We have given high priority to therapies that were included in integrative cancer care protocols/plans of one or more of our highly respected clinician advisors as well as other respected integrative oncology clinicians. We have also focused on groups of therapies used in protocols or with evidence for a small number of cancer types.
This list will continue to grow and develop and to improve in scope, accuracy and depth as we receive ongoing input from both our patient and clinician users. We also continue to expand the list of cancer types to include.
Types of Therapies
These categories are largely based on those listed by the National Cancer Institutes Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM).
- 7 Healing Practices
- Natural Products, Herbs, Nutrients and Supplements
- Diets and Metabolic Therapies
- Off-label, Overlooked or Novel Cancer Approaches (ONCAs)
- Biologic Treatments
- Energy Therapies
- Mind-Body, Spiritual and Consciousness-changing Approaches
- Exercise and Movement Therapies
- Manipulative and Body-Based Methods
- Therapies Using Heat, Sound, Light or Cutting-edge Radiotherapy
In addition to listing therapies for which there is scientific or scientifically informed evidence of effectiveness and safety, BCCT plans to provide a listing of questionable alternative "cancer cures" to avoid. These therapies are either poorly researched, proven to be ineffective or have been found to be unsafe. Examples:
- Essiac tea
- Rife machines
- Laetrile taken orally
We will also list therapies which should not be combined with conventional cancer treatments, such as n-acetyl cysteine. We list these to alert people to avoid dangerous interactions.