Integrative and Alternative Therapies and Approaches
What is integrative cancer care? The Society for Integrative Oncology offers this definition:
“Integrative oncology is a patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. Integrative oncology aims to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before, during, and beyond cancer treatment.”1
Alternative/Complementary Therapies and Integrative Cancer Care
Alternative therapies are those that are used in place of conventional therapies, such as using only meditation or herbs to treat cancer. Some patients may choose an alternative medical system, such as traditional Chinese medicine, instead of conventional medicine to treat cancer. Using alternative therapies is becoming less common as integrative oncology care becomes more available to patients. However, nearly four in 10 Americans believe cancer can be cured solely through alternative therapies,2 even though research found that patients with common cancers who chose to use only alternative medicine had a mortality rate 2.5 times as high as patients who received standard cancer treatments.3
Integrative cancer care is not simply adding complementary therapies to a cancer treatment plan.
Complementary therapies are those used to complement conventional treatments—not instead of conventional treatments. In the United States, a 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) analysis found that 64 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches.4 A smaller study in Canada found that up to 75 percent of cancer survivors were using complementary therapies.5
Integrative cancer care is not simply adding complementary therapies to a cancer treatment plan. For cancer care to be considered truly integrative, patients and their cancer treatment teams work together to find the best blend of conventional and complementary therapies that have been shown to be effective and safe.
We invite you on a tour of various therapies through these pages in this section:
- Kathryn H. Schmitz PhD, MPH Anna M. Campbell PhD Martijn M. Stuiver PT, PhD Bernardine M. Pinto PhD Anna L. Schwartz PhD G. Stephen Morris PT, PhD Jennifer A. Ligibel MD Andrea Cheville MD Daniel A. Galvão PhD Catherine M. Alfano PhD Alpa V. Patel PhD Trisha Hue PhD Lynn H. Gerber MD Robert Sallis MD Niraj J. Gusani MD, MS Nicole L. Stout PT, PhD Leighton Chan MD, PhD Fiona Flowers BS Colleen Doyle MS, RD Susan Helmrich PhD William Bain PhD Jonas Sokolof DO Kerri M. Winters‐Stone PhD Kristin L. Campbell BSc, PT, PhD Charles E. Matthews PhD: Exercise is medicine in oncology: Engaging clinicians to help patients move through cancer
- Dr. Deirdre Orceyre: Naturopathic and Integrative Cancer Care
- Dr. Ralph Moss: Dealing with the Trauma of Cancer: Dr. Moss interviews Dr. James S. Gordon
- Dr. Brian Lawenda: Brian Lawenda Website
- Dr. Michael Ruscio: Dwight McKee Podcast
- Ralph W. Moss: Herbs Against Cancer: History and Controversy
- LifeExtension Nutritional Support: Integrative Interventions for Breast Cancer