Integrative Oncology’s 30-Year Anniversary: What Have We Achieved? A North American Naturopathic Oncology Perspective

By: Leanna J. Standish, ND, PhD1,2 , Sonia M. Malani, ND2 , Ksenia Lynch, ND2,
Emily J. Whinkin, ND2, Carolyn M. McCotter, ND2, Duncan A. Lynch, ND2,
and Sunil K. Aggarwal, MD, PhD2

Integrative Cancer Therapies
Volume 22 1–13

In 1991 the U.S. Congress mandated that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) form the Office of Alternative Medicine to study alternative medical therapies, especially in oncology care. Shortly after, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) created its own division of complementary and alternative medicine (Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

At the genesis of the field 30years ago, what were we hoping to see accomplished by now? In this article we take a look back at milestones, shortfalls and future directions. Exciting opportunities exist to direct our established subspeciality’s future directions and we have made valuable advances the field of integrative oncology over the last 30 years: 1, IV high dose ascorbate has clinical research-based applications when used concurrently with some chemotherapeutic agents. 2.

Whole body, extracorporeal and locoregional hyperthermia are being applied in treating solid tumors, including brain tumors. 3. PDL-1 tumor microenvironment testing and PDL-1 inhibitor immunotherapies have surprisingly excellent outcomes in a subgroup of cancer patients. 4. Tumor DNA sequencing (resected tumor and circulating tumor DNA in blood) has led to personalized precision targeted treatments. 5. Glucose metabolism’s role in cancer progression is better understood and better therapies are available (e.g., intermittent fasting, metformin). 6. Medical cannabis has a larger role in treating chemotherapy-related side effects and shows promise for anti-proliferative effects. 8. Greater understanding has been gained of the interdependence and mutual regulation of processes in psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (PNEI). The burgeoning field of PNEI has exponentially expanded the discussion of tumorigenesis, apoptosis, and introduced to the field the investigation of more holistic approaches to immune regulation and cancer care. 8. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is gaining traction especially for cancer patients facing demoralization, existential and spiritual distress, anxiety, depression and trauma related to the diagnosis and treatment of their cancer. 9. Spiritual health of cancer patients is more commonly
addressed and measurable with an NIH validated scale. 10. Mind-Body therapies are efficacious for reducing cancer-related distress and are included in many cancer care programs.


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