What is integrative 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.”
If we want to understand integrative care we must understand that integrative care is two therapies coming together, the first being conventional therapies (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, etc) and complementary therapies (mind-body medicine, fitness, diet, patient counseling, etc).
In integrative care patients and their cancer treatment team work together to find an appropriate conventional therapy and complementary therapy that works for the patient and helps them support their conventional therapy.
Why choose integrative therapy?
So cancer therapies encompass a full spectrum of characteristics: level of risk, level of evidence, acceptance by mainstream medicine, cost, specificity to disease, availability, and more.[ 1 ] We focus on therapies that have good indications of safety and effectiveness. Our therapies are also low-risk and affordable for the patients.
We are also aware that few therapies might be harmful. For example, the outcome of the therapies can be influenced by a patient’s physical and psychosocial situation. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and many more can impact a patient’s response to demanding therapies such as surgery and chemotherapy. Psychosocial risk factors such as a lack of resourcefulness, depression, alcohol abuse, or the absence of social support can also influence the completion and success of many treatments. In such cases our experts will help guide you and ensure you stay on track.
There is evidence out there that integrative therapies are not safe, however, this mostly pertains to the use of non approved vitamins or trying to do it on your own without guidance. [ 2 ]
Integrative Oncology is more than adding complementary therapies to mainstream therapies. In truly Integrative Oncology therapies, patients, their caregivers and professional treatment teams work together to find the most suitable and effective mix of conventional and complementary therapies. Hence, we work with your oncologist to provide you with the best care possible.
One of the most intriguing changes in the past 30 years of integrative cancer care is the movement of clinicians and patients toward an authentic integration of standard or conventional care, complementary care, standard investigational therapies and investigational therapies outside mainstream practice.
- BCCT: Integrative Care
- Dr. Brian Lawenda: Brian Lawenda Website
- Dr. Michael Ruscio: Dwight McKee Podcast
- Ralph W. Moss: Herbs Against Cancer: History and Controversy
- US Food and Drug Administration: Project Facilitate: Assisting Healthcare Providers with Expanded Access Requests for Investigational Oncology Products
- American Institute for Cancer Research: American Institute for Cancer Research Blog
- Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians: Webinar: Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies: An online resource for integrative cancer care
- Commonweal: The New School at Commonweal
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Cancer.Net
- Michael Lerner: Choices In Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer
- Anticancer Fund: Anticancer Fund
- Hindawi Publishing Corporation : Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Donald Abrams, MD: Integrative Cancer Care
- SAGE Journals: Integrative Cancer Therapies Journal
- Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP): KNOWOncology
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network