Complementary Treatments for Stage 4 Melanoma

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Complementary treatments are treatments that are not considered scientifically proven to help or improve melanoma but may reduce side effects or improve quality of life. The following therapies include complementary methods—or treatments that can be used in combination with conventional medicine—for patients with advanced melanoma.

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Nutrition therapy

While nutrition does not cure cancer, maintaining good nutrition is important for the health of cancer patients, as it can help patients maintain a healthy body weight and fight infection. Beneficial foods and nutrients for skin cancer patients include fish, vegetables, antioxidants, plant-based spices, and flavonoids, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

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Herbal medicine

Due to their many antioxidants, herbs have been linked to some health benefits. Herbal medicine is made from such herbs and can be taken in tea or capsule form. Green tea in particular is high in antioxidants and may help prevent non-melanoma skin tumors from forming, according to a study published in 2011.

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Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used more to help alleviate pain in cancer patients rather than as a treatment method. Acupuncture—a technique that involves inserting needles at key points in the body—may be beneficial for people with malignant melanoma. It may help by relieving nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and may relieve side effects of treatments such as fatigue, dry mouth, and hot flashes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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Massage and physical therapy

During cancer treatment, physical exercise can help you recover from treatment more quickly, lessen anxiety, and give you more energy, according to the American Cancer Society. If you are having a difficult time exercising, physical therapy may help. Massage can help you relax and feel more positive about your body, according to the Cancer Council NSW. Deep massage may be too taxing when going through treatment but light massage may be helpful, according to BreastCancer.org.

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Yoga

The combination of exercise, detoxification, and relaxation involved in yoga may help create an ideal internal environment for fighting melanoma, according to some research. Practicing yoga may also help improve a patient’s emotional and mental state. One study found that people with cancer who practiced yoga at least twice a week reported better quality sleep over those who did not practice yoga.

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Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana may help relieve pain, lower inflammation and decrease anxiety you may feel when undergoing treatment for metastatic melanoma, according to the National Cancer Institute. It may also decrease nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite as a result of treatment. Marijuana is illegal according to the federal government but 29 states do allow use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils from plants to improve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, according to the National Cancer Institute. They essential oils are most often used by placing them in a diffuser and inhaling them. They can also be applied to the skin when diluted. It can help relieve the anxiety, nausea, and vomiting that often accompany cancer treatment.

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Psychotherapy

Being diagnosed and receiving treatment for metastatic melanoma brings many emotions. You may have trouble adjusting to your diagnosis or be concerned about how your illness will affect your family. You might find it difficult to cope with daily life or just need someone to talk to. Mental health professionals use different counseling and therapy approaches to help you cope with your diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society.

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Spiritual counseling

Many people going through treatment for metastatic melanoma find comfort in their religious beliefs and practices. Some find that they are angry with God because of their illness or feel betrayed by God. They may begin to question spiritual beliefs they previously found comfort in. During these times, seeking out spiritual counseling can decrease anxiety, depression or anger and help you feel less alone, according to the National Cancer Institute.