Incorporating the Art of Integrative Oncology in Your Practice

Pat Krueger, RPh; Cynthia Henrich, BE, CHC, AADP

January 2016, Vol 6, No 1 - Integrative Oncology


What exactly is integrative oncology, and how and why should it be woven into our mainstream oncology practices? Do questions from patients about alternative cancer therapies conjure up visions of long-haired hippie freaks making herbal concoctions, overseas clinics, or simply of the stacks of books and Internet articles that patients bring into the office in a desperate attempt to have a conversation about improving their outcomes and the quality of their lives? The fear factor plays a big role in both sides of the equation when it comes to integrative practices. Often, it is dismissed in the mainstream setting because there is no standardized way to incorporate it into an oncology practice, not because physicians discount its potential. The time has arrived to create an evidence-based solution that serves physicians, providers, and their staff, as well as patients and their caregivers. Community practice managers have a unique and powerful role to play in the future of community oncology by providing cutting-edge solutions that go beyond a meditation garden and a prescription for medical cannabis. Even our National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recognizes the value of alternative therapies. We now have the chance to create a new era of oncology management that truly integrates mainstream chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical-based solutions with integrative therapies to bridge the divide.

Evidence-Based Integrative Oncology

For example, research1 indicates that certain supplements and therapies used as a protocol before and after cancer surgery can reduce a patient’s risk for metastases. Far-infrared therapy paired with negative ion therapy provides a multitude of research-proved applications for pain, stress, and tumor regression via heat shock proteins, and synergistic impacts on chemotherapy, radiation, and certain cancer drugs.2,3 Aromatherapy with pure unadulterated essential oils has been clinically proved to reduce anxiety, nausea, and pain4; improve quality of life; and support many of the underlying functions of the body that are compromised during treatment. Fresh vegetable juices that nourish and hydrate; real food alternatives to parenteral feeding; protein smoothies that provide essential amino acids; effective ways to use food and supplements to relieve nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and neuropathy—aren’t these exactly what we need to help our patients? The time has come to provide a bridge between mainstream and alternative medicine that patients and caregivers can utilize to improve every aspect of their treatment. Indeed, every aspect of cancer care can be optimized,5 from the initial diagnosis through treatment, including specific protocols for “off weeks” and breaks in treatment via services that are provided in the office, as well as modalities that patients can use at home—all this is possible with integrative medicine. And the potential to provide care and relief for the caregivers using the very same concepts is powerful and necessary. Imagine a continuum of cancer care and support that rescues people from the void—the place where patients go when treatment ends, and they feel lost; or the place where caregivers go when the patient has passed, and the family is left wondering about their risk for the same disease.

The Future of Oncology Practice

How valuable would it be to differentiate your practice as the oncology practice that is capable of providing these services? Integrative oncology is the future; functional medicine that treats not only the cancer, but also the whole person, is the future, and the future has arrived. This idea is bigger than any one of us or any one of our practices. This tapestry will be woven by courageous and well-educated leaders who are committed to breathing a life force into a holistic care model that will change oncology medicine for the vast benefit of patients and providers. All that is required is a concise model with standardized, evidence-based concepts to refer to and that is easily accessed and understood by patients and is approved by physicians to begin weaving this integrative future. We have been in the trenches for several years creating this exact model of integrative oncology, and we have been working with open-minded, brilliant oncologists who want to serve their patients at the highest level possible, including holistic providers who can offer accountability and support for individuals and families, so they can experience the benefits of being compliant; and those creating the cutting-edge devices that give us the edge on conquering cancer with all its life-draining consequences. We have been researching supplements and foods and even venturing into the jungle to learn from shaman; exploring Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine; the gene-altering effects of meditation6; and the impact of essential oils on the limbic system and the olfactory receptors on each organ7; connecting to the founders and managers of alternative clinics around the world; and being well-versed in each alternative therapy. We have left no stone unturned.

Prana: Breathing the Essence of Life into Your Practice

And the result is prana—the Sanskrit word for “life force.” And who is more in need of a breath of life than anyone entrenched in a battle with cancer? A physician once said that on particularly difficult days, he would stop in the hospital and visit the newborns before going home just to remember to feel hope. Together, we can create a setting in our offices and then virtually, where all of us can hang on to that feeling of hope every day. We invite you to explore what this model of integrative oncology may mean for your practice setting by visiting www.whyprana.com, and to reach out to us for a conversation about integrating this model into your practice easily and effectively. Power your practice with prana.

References

1. Nemeroff S. Preventing surgery-induced cancer metastasis.December 2009. Life Ext Mag. www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2009/12/preventing-surgery-induced-cancer-metastasis/page-01. Accessed December 18, 2015. 2. Du X-L, Jiang T, Wen Z-Q, et al. Silencing of heat shock protein 70 expression enhances radiotherapy efficacy and inhibits cell invasion in endometrial cancer cell line. Croat Med J. 2009;50:143-150. 3. Ishibashi J, Yamashita K, Ishikawa T, et al. The effects inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells by far-infrared radiation (FIR) are controlled by the basal expression level of heat shock protein (HSP) 70A. Med Oncol. 2008;25:229-237. 4. Hunt R, Dienemann J, Norton HJ, et al. Aromatherapy as treatment for postoperative nausea: a randomized trial. Anesth Analg. 2013;117:597-604. 5. Ladas EJ, Kroll DJ, Oberlies NH, et al. A randomized, controlled, double-blind, pilot study of milk thistle for the treatment of hepatotoxicity in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Cancer. 2010;116:506-513. 6. Sakai J. Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. December 4, 2013. Press release. http://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/. Accessed December 18, 2015. 7. Wu Y, Zhang Y, Xie G, et al. The metabolic responses to aerial diffusion of essential oils. PLoS One. 2012;7:e44830.