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What is Integrative Oncology?

Updated: Jan 20

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is a professional organization for oncology practitioners and researchers. Recently, ASCO has endorsed the use of integrative medicine to treat breast cancer patients as proposed by Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO).

SIO advocates for evidence based approach to using. integrative medicine for cancer patients. SIO also publishes practice guidelines -

While SIO approach is optimized for treating patients with cancer, sometimes it is also limited by available evidence.

There are many modalities which does not yet have clear evidence - and this can be frustrating for patients. For me, the role of integrative medicine practitioner caring for cancer patients have to balance between evidence based v. balancing over all benefit of patients. Also, understanding where evidence based medicine works best is helpful.

For example, when patients have stage I cancer, there are lots of data that can help to guide towards optimal outcome. However, for stage IV cancer patients, there is not lot of evidence of effective treatments.

Integrative oncology differs in practice setting. For example, MD Anderson and MSK utilize mostly evidence based approach following practice guideline below:

My approach has been to use evidence based medicine and evidence based integrative oncology when appropriate especially in the early stages of cancer. Also, approaches with harnessing patient's willpower into specific lifestyles that have been shown to have survival benefits and low dose naltrexone often do not interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. My approach is to support patients undergoing cancer treatments and enhance vitality of my patient. One of my teachers in acupuncture shared how to enhance vitality using a specific treatment protocol.

The overall purpose of integrative oncology is to serve patients with cancer and assist in enhancing quality of life and outcome.

If you are interested, please fill out the contact me form.

Yoon Hang Kim MD

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