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The benefits of complementary therapies for cancer patients

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The Prince of Wales has called for more research into the benefits of complementary therapies for cancer patients. His Royal Highness was speaking at a conference hosted by five major charities, including The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health of which he is President.

The conference was hosted by The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health, together with four charities of which The Prince is Patron: Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Bristol Cancer Help Centre.

Addressing more than 200 healthcare professionals, researchers and government representatives at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The Prince encouraged the integration of alternative therapies with more conventional medicine in the treatment of cancer.

The Prince said: "Many cancer patients have turned to an integrated approach to managing their health, finding complementary therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and massage therapy extremely therapeutic.

"I know of one patient who turned to Gerson Therapy, having been told that she was suffering from terminal cancer and would not survive another course of chemotherapy.

"Happily, seven years later she is still alive and well. So it is therefore vital that, rather than dismissing such experiences, we should further investigate the beneficial nature of these treatments."

The Prince said a recent survey found that 80% of cancer patients try alternative or complementary therapies at some stage after diagnosis.

His Royal Highness also said that another poll found that three quarters of patients would like to see complementary medicine made available on the NHS.

The Prince said: "It seems to me that we need to devote a bit more time and resources to researching and developing integrated approaches to health care.

"We need to analyse every aspect of cancer: the myriad of causes, symptoms and consequences of the illness.

"We must commission and produce research that looks at the efficacy of complementary medicine while reflecting what patients are using today."

After his speech, The Prince was introduced to a number of healthcare professionals and representatives of the Department of Health, as well as three people who had suffered from cancer.

One of the patients, Frances Carroll, from Manchester, said she had benefited from alternative therapy for the past seven years.

Mrs Carroll was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago and turned to the alternative therapy after she did not appear to respond to conventional treatment.

On the therapy, she said: "It is a means of staying alive. I think it has extended my life expectancy.

"One might say I've beaten the odds."

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