Alternative and Experimental Therapies

Alternative therapies for medical disorders have become increasingly popular in the United States, with 42 percent of adults reporting having used one or more.1 The increasing popularity of alternative therapies has been fueled in part by rapid distribution of information on the Internet and in part by dissatisfaction with an increasingly dysfunctional traditional medical care system. Men with prostate cancer are especially susceptible to claims made for alternative therapies, since existing treatments produce a plethora of unfortunate complications.

Alternative medicine covers a broad spectrum of therapies, ranging from special diets, vitamin and mineral supplements, and herbal therapies to hyperthermia, ultrasound, light therapy, gene therapy, magnets, acupuncture, moxibustion, yoga, massage therapy, relaxation exercises, and prayer. There is some evidence that specific dietary factors may be useful in preventing or slowing the growth of prostate cancer; these factors, along with vitamins and minerals, are discussed in Chapter 13. The present chapter will focus on herbal therapies as well as other experimental therapies being studied for the possible treatment of newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Drugs and other experimental treatments for recurrent prostate cancer are examined in Chapter 11.

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