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Integrative Oncology

This page features relevant news, information and resources on integrative oncology as well as the broader topics of complementary alternative medicine and disease prevention. 

Integrative oncology is a combination of traditional and complementary alternative medicine that treats cancer from a holistic perspective.  It views the patient in the context of their lifestyle and physical environment. It may review such factors as genetics, diet and nutrition, as well as potential environmental exposures -- to  cigarette smoke, asbestos, pesticides, animal hormones, heavy metals and other toxins.  According to the World Health Organization, environmental factors contribute to the majority of diseases and chronic conditions.  Integrative oncology seeks to boost the patient's natural immune system in developing treatment plans.  Integrative therapies may complement  traditional chemotherapy and radiation, ameliorate side effects, or offer alternatives when traditional treatments are not fully effective, or cannot be used for other reasons.

Dr. Lawrence Rosen Writes on Integrative Oncology

An Introduction to Integrative Oncology
Drawbacks of Traditional Cancer Treatments

By their nature, chemotherapy and radiation often have serious side effects and can impact the body's natural immune system.   Chemotherapy is typically a systemic treatment accompanied by systemic side effects, which include nausea and vomiting. Bombarding cancer cells with radiation can also impact surrounding tissue and organs. Despite their drawbacks, they are still important treatments that have proven effective in treating a variety of cancers.  However, there is obvious room for improvement, not just in diminishing the impact of side effects, but in improving the overall effectiveness of treatment through a more holistic approach. 
Toward a Complementary Approach to Cancer Treatment

Integrative oncology, like integrative medicine, seeks to improve outcomes through a holistic view to treatment that encompasses body, mind and spirit.  In considering the body, the integrative oncology practice team seeks to mobilize the body's own immune system, and the patient in the fight.  The team often works to improve the digestive system so the body can best metabolize food and nutrients. They may advise an organic diet that avoids fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides, and avoiding dairy or meat products with animal hormones. In a similar way, they may focus on building bone health, since the blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body originate in the marrow. 

They also are concerned about how patients think and feel about what is happening.  Emotions influence the endocrine system which stimulates hormones that may help or hinder treatment.  Does the person have a fatalistic attitude, or do they visualize themselves as conquering "the invaders"?  As active participants, patients can give themselves the best chance of success. With a multidisciplinary approach, the integrative practice works from a broader understanding to help set patients on the road to wellness.  It  may integrate diverse therapies from acupuncture to guided imagery for managing natural immune response, pain and patient outlook.

As the practice of integrative oncology progresses, patients and doctors are already discovering real reason for renewed hope. While holistic medicine has its detractors (and imposters), the larger medical community is embracing the wisdom -- and role of complementary medicine -- as evidenced in new research, conferences and everyday practice. As alternative therapies become more integrated with standard practice at leading medical and cancer centers,  its role will likely expand and build.
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center ® at Hackensack University Medical Center represents one of the first hospital-based programs whose specific mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. The first mini-article below describes the role and importance of integrative oncology in treating children with cancer.  We also suggest you lear about related topics, such as diet, disease prevention and greener living.  Please browse the links below for further information, research studies and resources.


John Theurer Cancer Center

The Whole Child Center

National Institutes of Health:
          National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 
          NCCAM "Caner and CAM"    
          RSS Feed

National Cancer Institute   
Society for Integrative Oncology

Integrative Oncology (Donald Abrams, MD and Andrew Weil, MD):

Health Care Without Harm An international coalition of more than 430 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

Scams and Fraudulent Medical Treatment Awareness

          Food and Drug Administration  
          Federal Trade Commission 
          Scam Watchdog

News and Opinion

National Institute of Health 10th Anniversary Symposium on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, December 8,  2009, Bethesda, MD

Losing a Winnable War: We Can Conquer Childhood Cancer Deirdre Imus, (Huffington Post)

Revised 07/2012

Nutrition and Disease Prevention
This page summarizes information on our site concerning diet and prevention. It includes links to stories on organic foods, Ms. Imus' cookbook, as well as recent articles and research from the National Library of Medicine. Topics are arranged in alphabetical order.
BodyBurden Study: The Pollution in People
Researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals in the blood and urine of nine volunteers, with a total of 167 chemicals found in the group.

Homeopathy: Integrative health Series, Pt. 1
By Pierre Fontaine, RSHom CCH
Twenty years ago I was studying nutrition, diet and supplementation. I was taking a lot of supplements thinking this was the best I could do to stay healthy. At the time, I had more supplements in the apartment than you could find at the Vitamin Shoppe. Back then, few people were taking even Vitamin C, never mind single amino acid and trace minerals or enzymes. I was also taking shark cartilage pills every day because “sharks don’t get cancer!”
Integrative Health Series, Pt. 2: The Depth of Homepathy
By Pierre Fontaine, RSHom CCH
Homeopathy is made of two words:  homeo meaning “similar” and pathy meaning “suffering” - similar suffering. Incidentally, Samuel Hahnemann – the founder of homeopathy as discussed in my first article - also coined the term “allopathic” meaning different suffering because of the use of medication to counter symptoms produced by the disease. more...
Cancer Patients Nourish Life and Hope
What is worse for cancer patients: false hope or false hopelessness?

At age 31, my life took a sudden turn. I was an ambitious physician and neuroscience researcher who reveled in discovery and glittering science projects. Then, slipping into a brain scanner one evening in place of a subject who hadn’t shown up, I was suddenly stripped of my white-coat status and thrown into the gray world of patients: That evening, I discovered that I had brain cancer. more...

   Revised 06/22/12