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:
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.
How healthcare professionals can use CancerChoices
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 complementary therapies
Quick links to handbooks integrating therapies and practices
Many more handbooks are being developed.
Quick links to more about CancerChoices
CancerChoices is a unique resource for people with cancer and for health professionals. I highly recommend CancerChoices as an invaluable source of useful information. In addition to honoring skillful use of conventional therapies, it offers objective evaluations of unconventional ones and of many natural products with purported health benefits. I find its analyses and advice to be balanced and thoughtful.Andrew Weil, MD, Founder, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
CancerChoices offers something more than the newest and best scientific integrative and alternative approaches to the interface with cancer. Cancer happens to a person, a family, and a community, and is the occasion of profound transformation at all of these levels. No one emerges through the same door they went in. The cancer experience has the potential to enable people to recognize for the first time their unique strengths, their life purpose, the deeper meaning of their past choices, and the direction of their future. It can give them the authority to live from their most authentic values and release previously unseen barriers to their will to live. Usually this aspect of the cancer experience is left to chance. CancerChoices offers the most innovative and effective ways to further their spiritual transformation and supports people in bringing their whole selves to the experience of cancer. What results is not only their best chance to survive but to emerge more whole, more fully alive, than ever before.Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Founder, Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness, and Medical Director, Commonweal Cancer Help Program
Kudos to the creators of CancerChoices, an incredibly rich resource for patients trying to navigate the maze of complementary therapies and how to integrate them with standard treatment options. CancerChoices is overflowing with invaluable information, easily accessible and visually stunning. The site jumps to the top of my list of recommended resources for people living with and beyond cancer and their caregivers. An amazing encyclopedic compendium of the current state of integrative cancer care!Donald Abrams, MD, Integrative Oncologist (retired), UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
When you receive a diagnosis of cancer—as I have—you quickly find that everyone has an opinion: see this doctor, go to that clinic, buy this supplement, go on this diet. Why? Because it’s what they did, or their Aunt Sally, or they read it somewhere in a magazine. Until now, there has been no reliable online resource for sourcing up-to-date, evidence-based information about the efficacy of the many complementary therapies used to treat cancer. I am grateful to Michael Lerner and the staff at Commonweal for seeing this hole and filling it so ambitiously. For practitioners as well as patients, CancerChoices is one-stop-shopping for locating the best complementary and integrative resources available to all those who hear, or have to say to others, the words: ‘You have cancer.’Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, Founder, Anticancer Lifestyle Program
CancerChoices is an exceptional resource. There is certainly no shortage of information about integrative cancer care on the internet. The challenge is to find credible, trustworthy and reliable information. CancerChoices provides just this, and it doesn’t end there. This site provides informed hope and inspires confidence in individuals diagnosed with cancer as well as in their caregivers. Information is power—the power to make informed choices and to be an active participant in your own treatment experience. CancerChoices is at the top of my referral list for web-based information on integrative cancer care—a sparkling gem to illuminate your cancer journey.Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine and Assistant Director of the the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine
For those with advanced cancer, which is about half of all people who get cancer, very few options other than rather harsh treatments or palliative care are offered. I call it “whack a mole.” But the promise from science shows there is so much more. No one understands the need for CancerChoices more than those with cancer. I urge all those touched by cancer—patients, relatives, spouses, friends, physicians, researchers—to drop your egos and get out of our narrow box. We must go beyond.Wayne Jonas, MD, Executive Director, Samueli Integrative Health Programs
CancerChoices is a rare gift for people with cancer and health professionals interested in integrative oncology. Michael Lerner has been a pioneer in integrative cancer care. His book Choices in Healing (MIT, 1994) laid the groundwork for objective evaluation of integrative cancer therapies. CancerChoices follows the same path—fearlessly objective, patient-centered, compassionate, with science and analysis carefully separated. CancerChoices breaks new ground by including “ONCAs”—off-label, overlooked and novel approaches that emerge from within mainstream medicine. It also boldly explores taboo subjects like psychedelic medicines and the role of intuition on the part of both the patient and the physician. CancerChoices is a necessary resource for anyone with a serious interest in integrating the best of conventional and complementary cancer therapies.Dwight McKee, MD, Oncology Consultant
Integrative oncology training and healthcare professional education
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.
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|1||Witt CM, Balneaves LG et al. A comprehensive definition for integrative oncology. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52).|