Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies may help you cope better with pain and other side effects caused by cancer and its treatment. These therapies are used alongside conventional treatments. They may increase your sense of control, decrease anxiety, and improve your quality of life.

Let your doctor know about any complementary therapies you are using or thinking about trying. Depending on the conventional treatment and pain medicines you are having, some complementary therapies may cause reactions or unwanted side effects. You should also tell the complementary therapist about your cancer diagnosis, as some therapies, such as massage, may need to be modified to accommodate the changes in your body.

For more on this, see Complementary therapies.

Alternative therapies are used instead of conventional medical treatments. They are unlikely to be scientifically tested and may prevent successful treatment of cancer-related pain. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies for cancer-related pain.

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Complementary therapies used to manage pain


Uses fine, sterile needles placed under the skin into energy channels (called meridians) to stimulate energy flow.


Uses aromatic essential oils extracted from plants for healing relaxation. Mainly used during massage, but can also be used in baths, inhalations or vaporisers (oil burners).

creative therapies (art therapy, music therapy, journal writing)

Help you express your feelings in creative ways. The techniques also provide some distraction from the pain. You can be creative at home, or attend a program at some hospitals and support groups.

heat and cold

Uses heat to relieve sore muscles, and cold to numb the pain.


Releases both muscular and emotional tension, and may increase your sense of wellbeing. It helps relieve muscle spasms and contractions, and joint stiffness. Avoid massaging the area with cancer.

mindfulness meditation

Focuses on breathing techniques and quietening the mind. It encourages people to be more aware of their body, thoughts and surroundings. It can help you change the way you think about experiences.


Helps release muscle tension, and reduce anxiety and depression. It can help you sleep, give you more energy, reduce your anxiety, and make other pain relief methods – such as medicine or a cold pack – work more effectively.

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Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in September 2018
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