A diagnosis of cancer, even an early-stage, highly curable cancer, can prompt some people to feel as if they've suddenly lost control of their future and that they must do whatever they can to regain it.
They may seek guidance from the internet, friends and acquaintances, some of whom may be quick to relate tales of miraculous cures from alternative remedies that claim to spare patients the challenges of established cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
One web-based group, Integrative Cancer Answers, states that as many as 83 percent of cancer patients choose to use one or more forms of alternative medicine, ranging from acupuncture and herbs to vitamins and yoga, most often in conjunction with therapies clinically proven to be effective.
However, a small but significant number of cancer patients reject the treatments offered by mainstream oncologists and seek instead alternative remedies that may sound wonderful to a layperson but lack the support of scientifically valid research. Their reasons range from wanting to feel empowered by making their own treatment decisions to avoiding toxic side effects by selecting remedies they consider harmless.