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Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are a range of approaches to care aimed at enhancing quality of life and improving wellbeing. 

They may be used alongside conventional treatments. You may also hear people talk about ‘alternative therapies’. These are therapies that are taken instead of conventional approaches to treatment.

Many ’complementary’, ’natural’ or ‘alternative’ therapies have not been fully tested for their effectiveness or safety in treating menopausal symptoms after breast cancer.

It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any complementary, ‘natural’ or herbal therapies as they may interact with other cancer treatments.

Relaxation therapy

Relaxation can help reduce anxiety and stress. In women who have had breast cancer, relaxation therapy may improve sleep.

Yoga and physical activity

Physical activity can be an important part of recovery after cancer treatment. In women who have had breast cancer, yoga may improve hot flushes.


In women who have had breast cancer, acupuncture may improve hot flushes and sleep, although the evidence is not consistent. Side effects of acupuncture include slight bleeding or bruising at the needle sites.

If you have had breast cancer with surgery or radiotherapy to the axilla (armpit), you should avoid having acupuncture on the affected arm and ensure sterile needles are used to help prevent lymphoedema.


Hypnotherapy after cancer treatment can help people to make positive lifestyle changes and encourage positive emotions, such as calmness and relaxation. In women who have had breast cancer, purpose-designed hypnotherapy may improve hot flushes and improve sleep.