Introduction to your breast cancer handbook
If you have received a breast cancer diagnosis and are interested in exploring additional approaches to improve your odds of living as well as you can for as long as you can, you have come to the right place. We have many resources on integrative breast cancer care, which incorporates the best of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy, self carelifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress and complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture to support you. Learn more about Integrative Cancer Care ›
Synthesizing the evidence and information to support you
To help you make informed decisions, we review and share the evidence behind therapies and practices you may be considering. We also consult some of the leading experts in the field of whole-person cancer care and share their insights with you.
This handbook will help you make discerning decisions about conventional care and explore the many self-care practices and complementary therapies with evidence regarding improving breast cancer outcomes, managing side effects, and reducing the risk of recurrence.
Integrative cancer care helps you at each phase of your experience
Integrating self care with the best of conventional treatment and complementary therapies is a good idea. A review of 90 consecutive patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with an integrative approach showed substantially better survival—about 80% better or more—among those who received a comprehensive clinical program combining conventional treatments with nutrition and supplementation, fitness and mind-spirit instruction compared to conventional treatment alone.1Block KI, Gyllenhaal C et al. Survival impact of integrative cancer care in advanced metastatic breast cancer. Breast Journal. 2009 Jul-Aug;15(4):357-66.
Compelling evidence shows our 7 Healing Practices › have benefit for optimizing key body terrain factorsthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation, and more in studies with breast cancer. These practices may lead to improved survival and lower risk of recurrence. Many can also help manage side effects and symptoms and improve your overall health and wellness. These practices can be used at any time during your cancer experience.
Complementary therapies can also be a helpful tool to incorporate throughout your cancer experience. Research shows that many can reduce symptoms and side effects, and some have evidence showing benefits in improving cancer outcomes and balancing terrain factors, which create an environment within your body that is less conducive to cancer growth and spread.
Some practices and appropriate therapies also show added benefits at specific times:
- Before starting cancer treatment, you can build your resilience and get yourself into your best shape.
- During cancer treatment, adding the 7 Healing Practices and complementary therapies may be a sensible way to bolster the effects of conventional treatment and improve your tolerance to the side effects so you can complete your treatments.
- After you complete treatment, incorporating therapies and practices can help you heal from treatment and help prevent cancer recurrence.
Using this handbook
This handbook provides a wealth of information in integrative medical care for people with breast cancer, divided into sections for each phase of cancer. We suggest that you use it much as you might use a map or travel guide on a long road trip. Refer to it again and again, looking at the parts that apply to where you are right now on your journey.
Focus on what you need—you may want to look specifically at managing side effects and symptoms, or at improving surgery outcomes, or at finding a health professional to guide you.
The list of top practices and therapies, like a trip packing list, is a good summary of the self-care practices and complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies that you’ll want to consider packing for your journey.
We encourage you to share this handbook with those who are helping you in your cancer experience and who may be interested: your caregivers, your medical team, your family, and friends.
If you are in crisis now, we recommend that you first take the time to address your feelings of crisis and distress. Come back to this handbook when you can focus your attention here.
Words of guidance
Read some words of inspiration and guidance from Michael Lerner, CancerChoices co-founder and author of Choices in Healing.
Keep reading about breast cancer