Copper promotes the formation of blood vessels, including those that supply tumors. Depleting copper can deprive the tumor of its suppliers.

Affordability and access

Prescription required?

  • Yes

Other names

Copper chelation is also known as copper depletion. Several chelating agents work to reduce copper levels: 1Lawson MK, Valko M et al. Chelators in iron and copper toxicity. Current Pharmacology Reports. 2016;2:271–280. 

  • Tetrathiomolybdate (TM)
  • D-penicillamine (DPA or D-PEN)
  • Tetraethylenetetraamine (TETA or trientine)
  • Nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA)
  • 8-Hydroxyquinolines chelate copper and other metals.

Some chelators have been taken off the market due to side effects.2Lawson MK, Valko M et al. Chelators in iron and copper toxicity. Current Pharmacology Reports. 2016;2:271–280.

Where to access

TM requires a prescription and must be prepared by a compounding pharmacy. In compounding, ingredients are mixed together in the exact strength and dosage form required by the patient. TM has a short shelf life, so it is provided in one- to two-month supplies. 3Mark Bricca, ND, MAc. Email communication: Info. on TM / copper chelation for cancer recurrence prevention. June 29, 2021. 

Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has removed TM from the compounding pharmacy formulary, and so it is not available from compounding pharmacies in the US. Some naturopathic and other integrative oncologists are able to get their patients access from pharmacies outside the US. It is also available by participation in clinical trials. As of November 2021, we have heard that the FDA may allow pharmacies to resume compounding TM and make it available to patients in the US within the next few months. We will update the information here as we hear of changes in availability.


  • Moderately expensive (more than $2000 US/year but less than $20,000 US)
  • Cost depends on dose used, and it is typically in the neighborhood of $400/month. The first month of treatment requires higher doses.
  • TM is not covered by insurance. Ceruloplasmin testing is necessary while you are on TM, and testing may not be covered by insurance plans. 4Mark Bricca, ND, MAc. Email communication: Info. on TM / copper chelation for cancer recurrence prevention. June 29, 2021.

Keep reading about copper chelation


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher


Jen Green, ND, FABNO

Naturopathic oncologist and CancerChoices advisor
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Dr. Green is a naturopathic physician who is board-certified in naturopathic oncology (FABNO). Dr. Green is also a cofounder/research director for Knowledge in Integrative Oncology Website, a nonprofit website that harvests up-to-date research in integrative oncology to support evidence-informed decision making. Dr. Green has published scientific articles in journals such as the American Urology Association Update SeriesJournal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine and Natural Medicine Journal.

Jen Green, ND, FABNO Naturopathic oncologist and CancerChoices advisor

Last update: December 8, 2023

Last full literature review: July 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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