Integrative Programs and Protocols
Protocols may be unique to individual healthcare providers or clinics, and some represent a lifetime of investigation and learning from clinical practice.
Integrative protocols, approaches regimens, and programs are the packages that clinicians use that combine and preferably integrate various therapies and products into a cohesive design for care. (We'll refer to all these as "protocols" for simplicity.)
If you think of individual therapies as the “ingredients” of cancer care, then protocols are the “recipes” that guide how and when to combine therapies. Protocols may include complementary and conventional therapies in any combination.
Your doctor may use a protocol as guidance to create an individualized treatment plan for your care. A treatment plan will consider your specific medical condition, your age and fitness, your preferences for treatment and other factors. Your treatment plan may evolve over time as your healthcare team assesses your response to treatments.
BCCT does not recommend specific integrative protocols/programs but provides information for our readers to evaluate with their healthcare teams.
The BCCT website provides information and references for integrative protocols and programs used or published by several leaders in cancer care. To date, we focus on therapies used in protocols for breast and prostate cancers, although we list protocols related to other types of cancer in summaries of therapies related to these other protocols.
Lise Alschuler & Karolyn Gazella
Naturopathic oncologist Lise Alschuler and integrative health writer Karolyn Gazella have written two books, The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment and Healing and The Definitive Guide to Thriving after Cancer. These books include detailed sections describing integrative protocols that may be used for certain cancers, or along with certain conventional therapy treatments, or for particular conditions such as insulin resistance. For each cancer/treatment/condition, a discussion of herbs and supplements, plus dietary, lifestyle and other integrative therapies are presented with evidence for its use in a particular situation. A section of the book provides commonly used dosages and special considerations for the various herbs and supplements described in the book.
- Alschuler LN, Gazella KA. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts. 2010
- Alschuler LN, Gazella KA. The Definitive Guide to Thriving after Cancer. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. 2013.
Integrative oncologist Keith Block, MD, has written Life Over Cancer for cancer patients. He describes the integrative “Block Program" for fighting cancer to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:
- Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
- Those in treatment
- Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence
Descriptions of optimal lifestyle practices, innovative approaches to conventional diagnostics and conventional treatment administration are included, as well as information on nutraceutical support.
- Block KI. Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.
Integrative medicine physician Raymond Chang, MD, FACP, in his book Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail, describes a “new therapy based on the knowledge that certain off-label drugs, nutrients, and therapies are each somewhat effective against cancer. By combining these therapeutic agents into a 'cocktail', [often along with conventional cancer treatment], doctors have found that they can attack the cancer all at once, on many different levels and at several different angles, with the goal of overwhelming the disease." Dr. Chang discusses the effectiveness of the cocktail and provides an examination of the most valuable agents available. In some cases he describes commonly used dosages.
- Chang R. Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail. New York: Square One Publishers. 2012.
Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies
Lorenzo Cohen, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and healthcare educator Alison Jefferies have co-authored Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six. They introduce "the concept of the 'Mix of Six,' making an informed case that building social and emotional support; managing stress; improving sleep, exercise, and diet; and minimizing exposure to environmental toxins work together to promote an optimal environment for health and well-being. While each plays an independent role, the synergy created by all six factors can radically transform health; delay or prevent many cancers; support conventional treatments; and significantly improve quality of life." Anticancer Living provides an accessible, prescriptive guide to wellness based on the latest scientific findings and clinical trials.
- Cohen L, Jefferies A. Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six. New York: Viking. 2018.
Jeremy Geffen was a renowned integrative oncologist who developed a healing program based on what he calls The Seven Levels of Healing. It is a program of body, mind, heart and spirit for healing and transforming the whole person. Details of this program are available in audio CD and cassette as well as in numerous interviews and video presentations.
- Geffen J. The Seven Levels of Healing Audio CD – 2002
- Geffen J. The Journey Through Cancer: An Oncologist's Seven-Level Program for Healing and Transforming the Whole Person. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press. 2006.
- Geffen J. The Seven Levels of Healing. Presented at Cancer as a Turning Point Conference in Seattle, Washington in 2006.
Gerald Lemole, Pallav Mehta & Dwight McKee
In their book After Cancer Care, as well as on their website, Your Health Solution, integrative oncologists Gerald Lemole, Pallav Mehta and Dwight McKee give information on “how to maintain physical health after cancer treatment―with chapters on epigenetics, nutrition, and exercise―as well as emotional health through stress management techniques." The doctors present easy-to-incorporate lifestyle changes to help you “turn on” hundreds of genes that fight cancer, and “turn off” the ones that encourage cancer, while recommending lifestyle approaches to address each type. In addition, they describe supplements to help prevent relapse.
- Lemole G, Mehta P, McKee D. After Cancer Care: The Definitive Self-Care Guide to Getting and Staying Well for Patients with Cancer. New York, New York: Rodale, Inc. 2015.
In the 3rd edition of her book Breast Care Companion- A Complementary Care Manual , naturopathic physician Barbara MacDonald provides other naturopaths with information about breast cancer, its conventional treatment and natural approaches to enhancing treatment, managing side effects, reducing risk of recurrence and healthy living after cancer treatment is completed. This book would also be useful for other cancer care clinicians as well as patients. It includes dosage and administration information about natural products. The appendix contains a number of patient handouts (i.e. preparing for breast cancer surgery with naturopathic medicine).
In his third edition book, Naturopathic Oncology, naturopath Neil McKinney has compiled integrative naturopathic oncology interventions for cancer care. Useful for clinicians and patients, this book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.
- McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2016.
Ornish Diet and Lifestyle Modification Program (for Prostate Cancer)
Cardiologist Dean Ornish has adapted his Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program for use by men with prostate cancer. The program includes nutrition, fitness, stress management, and love and support. More information about this program is available on the Dean Ornish, MD, website:
Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; last update March 14, 2019.