For Healthcare Professionals

Key Points

  • This website has two primary audiences: cancer patients and healthcare professionals.
  • Care providers new to the practice or concepts of integrative oncology care are invited to keep an open mind.
  • Realize that many of your patients are likely already using complementary therapies.
  • You don't have to become an expert in complementary therapies to participate in your patients' integrative oncology care. Collaborate on an integrative oncology team, refer patients to integrative medicine centers and practitioners when warranted, and use or recommend the services of advocates or navigators.

Dear Colleague:

Thank you for your interest in Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies. We welcome your comments and suggestions, especially if you write in ways that we may be permitted to quote from with your permission as appropriate. As you can see, BCCT aims for a high level of science-informed content.

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With gratitude for your interest in a patient-centered evidence-informed resource for patients and health professionals,

Michael Lerner

BCCT Audiences

BCCT has two primary audiences:

  • Motivated cancer patients (and their support people) who are looking for resources, information and guidance to help them understand the complex choices they encounter in going beyond conventional cancer therapies.
  • Healthcare professionals who are 1) looking for additional resources and information to share with their patients interested in going beyond conventional cancer therapies, and/or 2) looking for more information about integrative cancer care to shore up their own knowledge base and support their patients who want an integrative approach to their care.

No matter where or how it’s practiced, integrative oncology care requires a team of knowledgeable and skilled professionals who work collaboratively, who communicate with each other and respect each other’s contribution to the care of the person with cancer.

Some sections of the website are written for the patient, while others, particularly the therapy summaries, are written with both the patient and the healthcare professional in mind.

Integrative Oncology Care

Find an Error? Let Us Know!

BCCT recognizes that many of our readers have considerable experience and expertise about topics we cover. We invite submissions of corrections and additions, with appropriate sources. Please use the Comment form at the bottom of this page, or use our Contact page, to share your thoughts with us.

If you are not familiar with integrative oncology care and the complementary approaches which are included in an integrative oncology treatment plan, we applaud you for interest in learning more. As you explore integrative care options with your patient, we urge you to consider these key points:

  • Keep an open mind

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  • Avoid assumptions

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Complementary Medicine Use and Disclosure to Conventional Physicians

An analysis of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data showed that one-third of the adult population in the United States uses complementary therapies,1 while an analysis the 2007 NHIS found that 64 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches.2 A 2019 review of data from the National Health Interview Survey found that one in three US cancer patients use complementary approaches, but 30 percent of those do not disclose use to their physicians.3

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  • Your patients are likely using complementary therapies

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Patient Expectations in Using Complementary Approaches

One study of women with gynecologic cancers found that patients using complementary medicine expected their gynecologic oncologist to be actively involved in the process of integration within supportive care and that complementary medicine consultations would focus on improving well-being.6

  • Integrating complementary therapies

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  • Refer when appropriate

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  • Use medical advocates, cancer guides and integrative oncology navigators

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Although “one-stop” integrative oncology practices may be ideal, particularly for those patients wanting this kind of approach, they can be uncommon in some areas. However, integrative care is available anywhere that professionals are willing to coordinate patient care. No matter where or how it’s practiced, integrative oncology care requires a team of knowledgeable and skilled professionals who work collaboratively, who communicate with each other and respect each other’s contribution to the care of the person with cancer.

BCCT Therapy Summaries: The Information Core of This Site

The therapy summaries include discussions of the state of the scientific evidence for each therapy. We include therapies which may not have robust scientific evidence, but which are generally considered safe, likely to have positive effects, are easily accessible and could be reasonable to try. Finally, we plan to provide—separate from those summaries—reviews of therapies which are questionable or dangerous.

Guidance on Making Wise Choices in Complementary Therapies

First, if the therapies go beyond sensible self-care, encourage your patient/client to review the science on its safety and effectiveness.We offer 3 guidelines as you explore complementary therapies with your patients/clients:

Second, encourage your patient/client to listen to their own intuition. If there is a therapy that they are drawn to—even if the clinical evidence is not strong—it should be considered carefully. If the potential for harm is small, and if it will not be a financial burden for the patient/client, they risk very little by looking into it.

Third, if the therapy involves considerable cost and travel, encourage your patient/client to learn everything they can before committing. The biggest peril is practitioners or centers that claim to cure cancer using complementary therapies and who charge a lot of money and require travel. Some are easily discovered to be fraudulent while others are unconventional but legitimate centers that provide therapies unavailable at major cancer centers. You can encourage your patient/client to be open to options, but to be cautious and do their research in these situations.

Education and Training Opportunities

KNOW Ocology Resource

We provide therapies on this site from a wide variety of traditions and approaches. The trainings that we include here are similarly eclectic. Integrative oncology, like the wider field of integrative medicine, is a chorus of many voices, sometimes joined in harmony, but not always.

The curated list below includes educational opportunities and trainings selected on these criteria:

  1. The topics and therapies included in the training are supported by evidence and are highly relevant to clinical oncology.
  2. The organization or speakers (or both) are highly regarded in integrative oncology.
  3. The organization/speakers are recommended by our advisors.


Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on March 16, 2021.

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More Information

Related Pages

 Pages on this site likely of interest to healthcare professionals:

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Comments (4)

  1. Vicky:
    Feb 09, 2020 at 10:59 AM

    Hello. How can I sign up to receive emails?
    Thank you

  2. Deborah:
    Sep 08, 2019 at 04:58 PM

    1/3 or more of the American population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime according to college level academic healthcare books.

    I’d like to be preventative and help others.

    Thank you,

  3. Nancy Hepp:
    Mar 20, 2019 at 01:28 PM

    You may find local or online support programs for people with brain cancer through the sites listed in the section on Advocacy and Support Groups on our Brain, Spine and Nervous System Cancers page at

    Also see The Healing Circles Learning Community,

  4. Kat:
    Mar 16, 2019 at 12:57 PM

    I was recently diagnosised w/glioblastoma and am looking for support. I live in Marin.

  1. 1

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