Integrative Medicine: Distinguishing Between Integrative, Complementary & Alternative Medicine

The terms complementary medicine and alternative medicine are often used synonymously but in fact there are very important distinctions between the two. Alternative therapies typically are promoted as viable treatment options, alternatives to mainstream therapy such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Alternative regimens are unproved, expensive, and potentially harmful. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering provides complementary therapies, but no alternative therapies.