What is integrative oncology?
“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.”
What role do naturopathic doctors play in integrative oncology?
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) trained in integrative oncology play an important role in the support of people diagnosed with cancer throughout active treatment and into survivorship. They provide evidence-informed guidance on the safe and effective use of natural and supportive therapies, when combined with conventional treatment.
Surveys estimate that up to 80% of people with cancer are choosing to use natural supportive therapies alongside their conventional treatments. Many patients have questions about combining natural therapies with cancer treatment, which therapeutic diets would be helpful for them and how can they work to achieve health during treatment and beyond. A naturopathic doctor, who is a licensed practitioner and trained in the safe and evidence-based use of natural medicine in cancer care, can answer these questions.
What therapies do naturopathic doctors use in cancer care?
Integrative therapies are non-invasive and include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy, psychotherapy, yoga therapy, and lifestyle counseling.
These therapies can be helpful at any stage of the cancer process:
- At the time of diagnosis: to prepare the patient for what lies ahead.
- During active treatment: to reduce side effects and potentially improve response to conventional care.
- Post-treatment: to help with recovery and support prevention of recurrence with healthy lifestyle education
How do naturopathic doctors integrate care with conventional oncology doctors?
With your permission, naturopathic doctors can communicate their care plan to your conventional care team, to ensure you have fully-integrated treatment that best serves you.
For more information on integrative oncology and naturopathic cancer care please check out the following organizations: