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Cancer: complementary therapies



At Dimbleby Cancer Care, we offer complementary therapies alongside your medical treatment to help support you.

Many patients find these therapies help them to manage symptoms and side effects. They may also help you to relax and sleep better.

None of these therapies are aimed at curing cancer.

Therapies we offer

We provide hands-on or virtual one-to-one therapies, relaxation and stress management courses, virtual relaxation drop-ins, and an aroma stick service.

  • Massage

    A therapist will apply gentle strokes to your back, neck and shoulders or other areas of your body, such as your hands, legs or face.

    Massage can be given while you are seated, on a massage couch or in bed. It can be given through clothing, or directly in contact with skin using unscented or scented base oils or cream.

    Massage can help with tension in your muscles, relaxation, and constipation.

  • Aromatherapy

    Clinical aromatherapy uses essential oils (plant extracts).

    Essential oils have therapeutic properties and their smell can be uplifting or calming. They can be blended with vegetable oils to give a gentle aromatic massage, or used for inhalation. The therapist works together with the patient to make up a bespoke blend.

    Aroma sticks, for breathing in essential oil blends

    We also offer an aroma stick service. Aroma sticks are plastic nasal inhalers that contain a blend of essential oils chosen to help with a specific concern such as anxiety, nausea or sleep problems. Gentle inhalation of the blend can help you or your carer feel relaxed and more comfortable.

    You or your carer can self-refer for an aroma stick by contacting Dimbleby Cancer Care on 020 7188 5918. Alternatively your healthcare professional can do this via their usual referral route, letting us know what you would like the aroma stick to help you with and any relevant medical history. The aroma stick can then be collected from Dimbleby Cancer Care, or posted to your home. 

  • Reflexology

    Reflexology involves massage to areas around the feet or hands. These areas are thought to link to different parts of the body.

    During a treatment, the reflexologist uses gentle techniques to stimulate the reflexes and nerve endings, aiming to help with stress and tension in your body as a whole.

  • Reiki

    Reiki was developed in Japan as a practice of energy work and therapeutic touch to rebalance the body, mind and spirit.

    The therapist places their hands on or over the body in a sequence of positions with the aim of encouraging relaxation and a feeling of wellbeing. Reiki is not offering 'healing' for any condition, nor is it based on any spiritual belief.

Other services

  • Relaxation and stress management courses

    The complementary therapy team offer a number of short courses to teach practical techniques that may help you manage stress, anxiety or sleeplessness. They will be delivered both virtually as well as face to face. The courses cover:

    • breathing and movement for relaxation
    • guided relaxation techniques
    • the safe use of aromatherapy at home
    • self-massage

    Practical handouts are provided for each person to continue using the techniques at home. 

  • Virtual relaxation

    The complementary therapy team offers weekly virtual relaxation sessions every Friday at 1pm.

    To register for this and receive the one-off log in details, please email your name, date of birth, and hospital number to to get the full details about the session and how to join.

How to book a treatment

To book an outpatient appointment at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s in London or Guy’s Cancer at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup a referral by a healthcare professional is needed.

You will then be called by a member of the complementary therapy team, who will book you in for an initial phone consultation/assessment with your dedicated therapist.

Initial assessments are done via telephone, and last about 20 to 30 minutes. During this call, you will be able to book your follow-up sessions. These sessions will last about 40 minutes.

Shorter treatments are available to patients on the wards. Please ask the team caring for you, as a referral by a health care professional is required.

For more information, call Dimbleby Cancer Care on 020 7188 5918.

How can complementary therapies help me?

Complementary therapies may help you with:

  • sleeping better
  • relaxing and coping with anxiety
  • aches and pains
  • headaches
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • higher energy levels
  • caring for yourself
  • managing side effects of treatment
  • your wellbeing

Eligibility and referral process

In order to be able to offer a fair service, the following eligibility criteria apply. 

  • Outpatient appointments and services are available to patients within 24 months of diagnosis. Pre-booking is required and there can be waiting times.
  • Courses can be attended within 24 months of diagnosis and there can be waiting times. Please ask reception for more information.
  • Unplanned appointments at Chemotherapy Village are on a drop-in basis and subject to availability. Please ask your nurse or a team member to help you sign up on the day.
  • Ward patients can be referred by clinical staff. Please ask your nurse or consultant, or one of our team members.

Who are the complementary therapists?

All our complementary therapists have extensive experience and training in working with cancer patients and are registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council or the Federation of Holistic Therapists

Supply of oxygen

Dimbleby Cancer Care is an outpatient setting and so we cannot provide oxygen or medication to our patients. Please make sure that you bring enough supplies to cover your appointment and your journeys to and from the hospital.