Types of Cancer Care: Introduction
In medicine, many different types or “cultures" of medical care are found around the world. Conventional, naturopathic, integrative, functional, anthroposophic and traditional medicine approaches each create distinct cultures and views of food, nature, spirit, relationships and other physical and mystical elements and how these relate to health. Traditional medicines from many cultures may approach medical care with more spiritual, relational or holistic views than modern Western medicine.
The world of complementary and alternative cancer therapies is complex, and science alone may be inadequate to provide guidance. We approach our summaries of complementary therapies, including traditional medicines, plus off-label, overlooked and novel cancer approaches (ONCAs), through their cultures of care. We look at each therapy on its merits and in light of the belief systems behind the therapy.
In Cancer as a Turning Point, Lawrence LeShan writes:
Ever since classical Greek times, there have been two basic viewpoints in Western medicine. The first (the 'allopathic' view) has held that the physician should be someone who works actively against disease and illness, who strongly intervenes with whatever tools available—surgery, chemicals, and so on. The second (the 'naturopathic' view) has held, rather, that the physician be someone who cooperates with the natural healing powers of the body, and, by strengthening and supporting these, helps the patient to grow toward health.1
Understanding complementary therapies depends on realizing that they often represent different belief systems and different cultures of medicine.
- Understanding complementary therapies depends on realizing that they often represent different belief systems and different cultures of medicine.
- Complementary therapies cannot always be evaluated in conventional scientific terms.
- Off-label, overlooked or novel approaches (ONCAs) can be evaluated in conventional scientific terms.
Types of Cancer Care
Through the following pages, we offer descriptions of several types of care and introduce readers to their various therapies:
- Standard conventional care
- Clinical trials and other experimental therapies
- Traditional medicines:
- Traditional Chinese medicine
- Ayurvedic medicine
- Traditional Tibetan medicine
- Homeopathic medicine
- Integrative medical systems in practice in the United States and Canada:
- Integrative medicine and oncology
- Naturopathic medicine and oncology
- Functional medicine
- Traditional Chinese medicine
- Anthroposophic medicine
See these sources for further descriptions of some of the different cultures and approaches to cancer care:
- National Cancer Institute: Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Thinking about Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People with Cancer
- Complementary Medicine Education and Outcomes (CAMEO) Research Program (Canada): CAM & Cancer in Canada: An Evidence-informed Resource for Patients, Support Persons, and Health Care Providers
- American Cancer Society: Complementary and Alternative Methods and Cancer
- Gurdev Parmar and Tina Kaczor: Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology