Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies aim to support and enhance the quality of life of a person through improving their well-being. They do not aim to cure the person’s illness, but rather are used to complement mainstream treatment or care.


What are Complementary Integrated Therapies?

Complementary Integrative Therapies (CIT’s) are evidence-based, and used alongside mainstream cancer treatments, to provide supportive care to improve a person’s quality of life. These therapies are not used to treat cancer but primarily, to assist in reducing the physical and psychological symptoms associated with cancer and mainstream treatments.

1 in 4 Australians will use a form of Complementary Therapy such as massage, exercise and music therapy during their cancer treatment.

Integrative Cancer Care is the combined use of mainstream cancer treatment with complementary methods in a deliberate manner that is personalised, evidence-based and safe.

All services provided through the Solaris Cancer Care are evidence based. Qualified practitioners who volunteer their time and skills to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care and support provide our therapies.


Complementary Therapies vs. Alternative Therapies

The terms complementary and alternative medicine are often used interchangeably. However, they are two very different approaches to the treatment of an individual’s health.

Alternative medicine/ therapies are used to replace conventional medicine and are not supported qualitative research.  The majority of alternate therapies are not assessed for efficiency or safety. In some cases, studies have found alternative medicine/ therapies to be harmful or ineffective.

Complementary therapies are a range of approaches to care aimed at enhancing the quality of life and improving well-being that is generally used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapies or targeted therapies.  Complementary therapies may include acupuncture, relaxation therapy and meditation, gentle exercise, guided imagery, music or art therapy, massage, aromatherapy, some dietary therapies and support group programs.

The SolarisCare Foundation does not support or promote the use of alternative treatments through our centres.


Why Use Complementary Therapies

Many people use complementary therapies to support their mind and body during cancer treatment. Reasons for use include gain control over one’s treatment, need for emotional and physical support unmet by conventional medicine include improving physical and emotional well-being and quality of life

Studies have shown individuals use CIT’s during their cancer treatment experience the following benefits:


  • Empowerment as it gives them the opportunity to take an active role in their health care, to supplement an emotional and social need unmet by conventional medicine.
  • Improved physical and emotional well-being and quality of life
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Reducing side effects associated with mainstream treatments including
    • Pain
    • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Anxiety
    • Depression

An integrative process involves bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. This approach to health, wellness and quality of life is increasing within the healthcare system worldwide.

There is growing research into to benefits of integrative cancer care in a variety of circumstances, including pain management, symptom relief and programs to promote quality of life in cancer patients, survivors and carers.

Discussing the use of complementary and alternative therapies

We encourage and support the communication between healthcare professionals, complementary therapists and patients to enhance the understanding between parties.

It is to the advantage of all concerned if patients are able to discuss complementary and alternative therapies openly, secure in the knowledge that they will continue to receive support and understanding from their treatment team.

For many women, feeling they can assume some control of the treatment of their disease is psychologically empowering.

The issues of effectiveness, safety and cost need to be explored with all patients who use complementary and alternative therapies. It is important for the clinician to be aware of all medication the patient is taking, to avoid adverse interactions with drugs.

Guidelines for clinicians to assist in discussing complementary and alternative therapies have been developed.