Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Many families consider using complementary and integrative medicine as part of a child’s care during cancer treatment. Your first step if you are using or thinking of using complementary medicine is to talk with your child’s doctor. Together you can weigh any possible benefits and risks for your child and make an informed choice.

Supporting Your Child’s Health

Seattle Children’s, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization, has a Complementary and Integrative Medicine program to help doctors and families integrate complementary therapies with conventional medicine. Our emphasis is on your child’s safety and well-being. We focus on therapies that show good results in clinical research.

Some therapies may help support your child’s overall health and journey through cancer treatment. For instance, acupuncture helps relieve pain and nausea in some people.

What Are the Risks?

Some therapies may counteract your child’s conventional treatment, make side effects worse or lead to infections. This is a concern mainly with remedies that your child takes internally, such as herbal and nutritional supplements.

No agency assures the safety, effectiveness and purity of supplements, so all supplements carry some risks. Certain supplements are known to be harmful. The risks are especially important for children who are receiving chemotherapy or whose immune systems are weak from cancer treatment. Your child’s healthcare team can give you guidance about which supplements may be helpful and which may be risky or dangerous.

Work with Your Child’s Team

Please talk with your child’s healthcare team about any therapies that you want to combine with conventional treatment. We will be happy to help you make choices to support your child’s comfort and recovery.