What is Integrative Oncology

What is Integrative Oncology - Virginia Von Schaefer

Integrative oncology is an interdisciplinary approach to cancer care. In addition to conventional cancer treatments, patients often use complementary medicines and practices that can ease symptoms and improve their quality of life. These therapies include acupuncture, yoga, and meditation.

However, they are not routinely taught in medical schools, and many patients need to learn about them. This makes it difficult for patients to navigate the complex world of CAM therapies.

It Is an Interdisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care

Integrative oncology is an interdisciplinary approach to cancer care that includes complementary therapies grounded in evidence alongside conventional cancer treatment. It aims to support patients and their families through the entire cancer experience, and manage side effects. Moreover, it aims to reduce the risk of recurrence, improve quality of life, and prevent secondary cancers.

Integrative medicine programs at cancer centers often offer a wide range of mind-body and body-based therapies, including mindfulness, biofeedback, meditation, relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, yoga, music therapy, and creative/expressive therapies. These therapies can be used together or separately from conventional treatments to help manage pain, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms.

However, not all complementary methods are safe for everyone. You should discuss with your provider to ensure that you use them appropriately. For example, deep-tissue massage can be dangerous for people with lymphedema, and acupuncture can cause infection in people with a low white blood cell count.

It Is a Way of Life

Integrative oncology is a field of comprehensive cancer care that uses lifestyle modifications, mind-body practices, and natural products from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. It also seeks to engage patients and families as active participants in their care, from prevention through treatment and survivorship.

This enables patients and healthcare professionals to incorporate patients’ values, preferences, and current research evidence for therapeutic approaches (e.g., medications or acupuncture for pain) into a shared decision-making process. This concept, based on evidence-informed patient-centered care, optimizes health promotion and prevents side effects of treatment. It may interfere with patient satisfaction.

In addition, this approach helps to manage individual expectations of what can be achieved with CAM. This is important because many cancer patients use some form of CAM, and many have increased expectations for a cure or prolonged life with such therapies.

It Is a Way of Coping With Cancer

Integrative oncology is a form of cancer care that includes mind-body practices, natural products, lifestyle modifications, and conventional cancer treatment. It aims to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer continuum by engaging patients and their families as active participants before, during, and beyond cancer treatment.

At Hunterdon Hematology Oncology in Flemington, New Jersey, our highly experienced team can help you cope with cancer using integrative therapies like counseling, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques. Call us or book an appointment online today to learn more about how these treatments can make your cancer experience less stressful.

Many people with cancer have trouble controlling symptoms and coping with stress. These are common issues addressing with nonpharmacologic therapies such as acupuncture, therapeutic massage, yoga, meditation, and other complementary methods of symptom management.

It Is a Way of Healing

Integrative oncology uses complementary therapies alongside traditional cancer treatments to help people heal from and manage side effects. It includes practices such as yoga, acupuncture, massage, and meditation. This approach focuses on healing rather than curing, explains Glosik. She says the goal is to put patients in the best possible condition to use their natural resources for healing.

Moreover, she notes that integrative oncology programs are available worldwide. They can improve the quality of life and support the health of cancer patients and their families.

However, several global challenges inhibit evidence-based cancer care delivery, including increased cancer incidence and mortality. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) is committed to strengthening the contribution of traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine (TCIM) to universal health care. This field of research is essential to bridge gaps in delivering high-quality, evidence-informed, patient-centered care. To achieve this, more clinical research and sustainable financial models are needed.