About integrative oncology

In 2017, leaders within the field of integrative oncology published the following definition of integrative oncology based on a literature review and a consensus procedure: 

“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.”1Witt CM, Balneaves LG et al. A comprehensive definition for integrative oncology. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52). 

To describe the complex topic of integrative cancer care in a patient-focused way, CancerChoices’ description of integrative cancer care aligns with this definition, while expanding on it.

A key difference is that we divide cancer care into conventional, self care, and complementary care.

And, based on our findings from our reviews of individual complementary therapies, we define four medical benefits of an integrative approach. These include improving treatment outcomes, optimizing body terrain, managing side effects, and reducing the risk of cancer or recurrence. See more:

What Is Integrative Cancer Care? ›

Our approach

This site offers an actionable, balanced, evidence-informed overview of integrative cancer care for people with cancer and healthcare professionals.

Beyond describing general choices in cancer care, we curate a wide range of complementary cancer therapies. We investigate and report benefits, risks, costs and expert use to help people make better choices in their cancer care.

Our handbooks provide guidance on integrating conventional, complementary and self care on specific topics, such as a side effect common during treatment, or a conventional approach such as surgery.

We are oriented towards the needs of the person with cancer and therefore may be less conservative than research-based organizations that take the long view. People with cancer don’t have the luxury to wait for the large, gold-standard, decades-long research studies to find definitive answers. If something offers real hope based on evidence, we present that. We also share if evidence to date shows no effect or even harm from a therapy. As new research is published, our assessments and ratings can change.

Throughout the site, we link readily to all the evidence that informs our assessments and ratings. We are transparent about all our information.

CancerChoices does not promote any specific approaches or therapies, nor do we receive funding from anyone profiting from these therapies. We offer information so that people facing difficult decisions can make informed decisions.

You may have expertise on a specific topic you wish to share. We encourage your comments and contributions to make our information more accurate, up-to-date, and actionable for people with cancer. You’ll find a link at the end of this page.

Why professionals trust CancerChoices

Professionals tell us they trust CancerChoices to provide balanced information on integrative cancer care. Whether you are a conventional oncologist, an integrative oncology professional, or an integrative practitioner not specializing in oncology, you can find information to inform or enhance the care you provide to your patients.

We don’t receive funds from companies or any parties who profit from selling or distributing cancer treatments or advice.
We investigate cancer therapies and practices by relying heavily on peer-reviewed studies and reviews in medical journals.
Many advisors and other integrative oncology experts provide expertise on our content.

How healthcare professionals can use CancerChoices

For yourself

While the primary audience for this website is people living with cancer, we have an abundance of information that is valuable for integrative and oncology professionals.

We have built complementary therapy reviews so that you can quickly investigate these approaches. You can find answers to your questions if a patient tells you they are using a therapy that you’re not familiar with in the context of their condition. You can get a quick snapshot of therapies from our unique rating system, or you can dig deeper to find the details and the sources that informed our ratings.

On many topics, you will find a page or section titled ‘Are you a health professional?’ where you can find additional context meant for the professional’s point of view. On these pages, we also offer ideas on how you can open or advance conversations with your patients and support them as they seek to make lifestyle changes.

With your patients

CancerChoices can be a powerful resource to support discussions with your patients or as a patient-education resource for you to recommend for home viewing.

You may choose to recommend specific pages to patients depending on the issues they have, such as side effects and symptoms ›

You can recommend that your patients review self-care topics › that can have considerable impact on treatment outcomes and quality of life.

You may share specific therapy reviews › to explain why you recommend either for or against use for your patient.

You may invite your patients to read stories from people who have faced similar situations ›

Quick links to handbooks integrating therapies and practices

Many more handbooks are being developed.

Quick links to more about CancerChoices

Get involved

This site was created to help people with cancer. We also believe it has the potential to advance the field of integrative cancer care. We welcome the expertise and energy of healthcare professionals to strengthen its content and expand its reach.

Share our content:

  • Include a link to CancerChoices on your website or within patient pamphlets.
  • Share relevant CancerChoices pages with your patients.
  • Follow and share our posts on your social media platforms.
  • Connect our team with cancer institutions and influencers.

Contribute to our content:

Sign up to stay up-to-date

CancerChoices email updates

Receive monthly email notifications of webinars and other CancerChoices news, and also gain free access to the Commonweal’s Cancer-Fighting Kitchen course.

Media Watch news

Receive email notifications several times a week with news articles about cancer-related research. Click the “Join Group” button to join this Google Group.

Health professional comment

We invite health professionals to contribute expertise or send us questions.

"*" indicates required fields

Please share your thoughts about content on the CancerChoices website. If you have a correction for us to consider, or additional information to add, please include references and links if possible.

References[+]