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Complementary Pancreatic Cancer Therapies

Alternative therapies are therapies that can be used along with medical treatment to help the patient feel better. No one should begin an alternative therapy without speaking with his or her physician.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy involves touch and different techniques of stroking or kneading the muscles of the body. It can involve only part of the body or a full body massage. Massage may be done through one’s clothing or on the exposed skin. It can be done in specialized chairs or on a table. Massage therapy should only be done by a licensed massage therapist.

Massage is used for muscle and bone discomfort, improvement of circulation, reduction in swelling, relaxation, and pain control. It can be used as a complement to other treatments and as a stress reducer and feel good therapy. Studies have shown that massage can improve the relaxation response and the general sense of well being.

Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Touch is a process of energy exchange in which the practitioner uses the hands as a focus to help the healing process. It is based on the idea that human beings are a form of energy. When we are healthy, the energy is freely flowing and balanced. Disease on the other hand, is believed to be an imbalance or disturbance of the energy flow.

Therapeutic Touch treatment may vary from 5-30 minutes depending on the needs of the individual. Exact methods vary between practitioners, but generally they will hold their hands 2-4 inches away from your fully clothed body, moving them from your head to toe, and over your front and back. Research has demonstrated that therapeutic touch promotes relaxation, and a sense of comfort and well being. Research has shown it to be effective in decreasing anxiety and altering the perception of pain.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise improves the overall functioning of the body and quality of life. Exercise therapy may decrease stress, pain, nausea, fatigue and depression. Regular exercise affects your hormonal balance as well as most of your body systems. Regular participation in physical activity raises the heart rate and maintains an increased heart rate for a period of time.

Depending on your physical condition, and after the advice of your physician, you may begin walking 5-10 minutes twice a day with a goal of increasing activity for 45 minutes at least three times each week. It is important that your exercise time be without interruptions. This is time for yourself. If you are unable to walk, there are other ways to exercise (i.e.,stretching, isometric exercises).


Meditation or relaxation is a state of being free from anxiety, tension, and distress. A state of relaxation can be achieved using different styles, such as, diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, repetitive affirmation, prayer, yoga, and guided/visual imagery. When practiced regularly, meditation can improve sleep, concentration, and the ability to cope with stress. It can help with management of pain, nausea, and anxiety. You may find free tapes or booklets about meditation at libraries or low cost materials in stores. You may also choose to attend groups or work groups for no or minimal fees. Once you have learned the technique, meditation can be practiced without cost.


Science is taking a closer look at the effects of “mirthful” laughter – that is, laughter that is provoked by happiness, not laughter that is the result of emotions such as embarrassment and anxiety. While it is easy to see how laughter can boost one’s mood, many researchers are finding evidence that mirthful laughter can, indeed, boost one’s immune system. More research needs to be done.


The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.