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Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM)
Last Updated: 11/09/12

Frequently Asked Questions
about Cancer and CAM

What does CAM include?

CAM may include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation.

Why should CAM therapies be evaluated scientifically?

It is important that CAM therapies receive the same scientific evaluation that is used to assess standard healthcare approaches. As CAM therapies are proven safe and effective, they may become part of standard health care.

How can I find more information about complementary and alternative medical practices?

NCI has produced summaries of the scientific literature for both patients and health professionals (PDQ summaries) and shorter question and answer documents (Fact Sheets) about certain CAM therapies.

You may also wish to contact the NCCAM Clearinghouse to obtain the fact sheet, “Considering Complementary and Alternative Therapies.” The NCCAM Web site provides helpful hints and questions to consider when choosing an alternative healthcare practitioner.

Can I come to OCCAM to receive an alternative treatment?

OCCAM is not a treatment facility and cannot answer specific medical questions. OCCAM cannot make referrals to individual practitioners or recommend particular therapies for patients.

Does OCCAM provide medical advice?

OCCAM does not offer personalized medical advice to individuals about their condition or treatment. Contact your medical care provider for answers to your personal health questions.

However, the resources provided in the Health Information section on this site can provide basic information about cancer and CAM therapies. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care.

Where can I find information about a specific type of cancer?

Online:

Visit the NCI’s Web site for information about specific types of cancer and clinical trials. You may also access the NIH Health Information Index, which provides a list of diseases currently under investigation by NIH or NIH-supported scientists as well as major NIH research areas.

By phone:

Call the Cancer Information Service (CIS) at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) for the latest, most accurate cancer information. In the U.S., you can call the CIS between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

Where can I find answers to frequently asked questions about OCCAM and NCI’s Best Case Series Program?

For more information on these specific topics, please visit the sections below: