The Alternative Medicine Handbook

James Metz, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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front cover Author: Barrie R. Cassileth, Ph.D.
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company
ISBN: 0-393-04566-8


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Barrie R. Cassileth, PH.D. is considered one of the world experts on unconventional medical therapies. She has created an excellent in-depth review of 53 of the most commonly used treatments. Although this book was not specifically written for cancer patients, it provides an excellent overview of many pertinent topics. It should be noted; Dr. Cassileth's interest in alternative and complementary therapies began when she was working at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

When considering any unconventional medical therapy, the patient needs to become educated with reliable information. The Alternative Medicine Handbook empowers readers to make informed decisions on their care. The book is arranged so each therapy falls in categories devised by the Office of Alternative Medicine. Chapters are organized in a similar format so the reader can quickly assimilate information on a variety of topics. Each unconventional therapy is broken down by the following topics:

  • What it is
  • What practitioners say it does
  • Beliefs in which it is based
  • Research evidence to date
  • What it can do for you
  • Where to get it

The information is presented in this way so readers can make educated decisions on the practices discussed. Dr. Cassileth states "this book will help guide the way by identifying major complementary and alternative medical practices and by describing their backgrounds, goals, benefits, and risks." The book does not make specific recommendations on unconventional therapies. Instead, she lets the reader make conclusions based on the information presented.

This book is an excellent guide for both patients and health care providers. Readers looking for extensive information on specific herbal therapies will need an additional reference as a supplement to this book. Readers can be assured the information in this text is accurate and dependable. The Alternative Medicine Handbook is highly recommended by OncoLink for those searching for information on this topic.



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