Cancer has been part of the human experience for thousands of years. As far back as 400 BC, the Queen of Persia had surgery to remove a lump in her breast. Thankfully, modern research has lead to life changing improvements in cancer treatment. Conventional treatments, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, have become an important part of cancer care. Importantly, science and experience have also confirmed an essential role for natural medicine in modern oncology.
For many, choosing natural therapies to safely combine with conventional treatments can be confusing. As a naturopathic physician specializing in integrative cancer care, I provide patients with evidence-based natural therapies that are safe and effective during varying stages of treatment. There is a role for naturopathic care before and after surgery, to support patients receiving radiation or chemotherapy, and during survivorship following cancer treatment.
The naturopathic approach requires treating each patient as an individual. The various therapies employed in integrative cancer care should reflect the individual patient, the cancer that is being treated, and the conventional therapies they receive. Plans often include dietary change, nutritional supplements, botanical medicine and homeopathy.
Is there a difference between Integrative and Alternative cancer care?
An “alternative” regimen means that a patient has opted to focus on natural medicines and to decline conventional care such as chemotherapy or radiation. Alternative care is an area of controversy, with several recent studies associating this approach with unfavorable outcomes. On the other hand, an “integrative” approach combines both conventional care and natural therapies in an effort to benefit from both approaches and improve outcomes. Integrative cancer care incorporates evidence-based natural therapies and often addresses areas that are missing in conventional treatments. Adding natural therapies to strengthen the immune system and to improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins and minerals will improve the body’s ability to heal. Herbal medicine and nutritional supplementation can minimize side effects from chemotherapy, such as fatigue, stress and sleeplessness.
Whether you are concerned about developing cancer, have been recently diagnosed, are undergoing treatment or are in survivorship, it is important that an individualized plan is developed.
Dr. Jill Kenney is a Naturopathic Physician Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull in Integrative Medicine and Support Services and has a private practice in downtown Fairfield.
Dr. Kenney works with cancer patients at varying stages of their treatment to develop individualized treatment plans.