For Healthcare Professionals

Thank you for your interest in Love Heals Cancer’s information beyond conventional cancer therapies. We welcome your comments and suggestions, especially if you write in ways that we may be permitted to quote from as appropriate. As you can see, LHC aims for a high level of science-informed content.

Donald Abrams, MD, notes that integrative therapies are rarely science-based because adequate research is unavailable to meet that standard—and in many cases will never be available because there is rarely any return on investment for pharmaceutical companies. He also notes that the lower the likelihood of harm, the lower the necessary standard of evidence—hence “evidence-informed” can sometimes be an appropriate standard. BCCT colleague and advisor Wayne Jonas, MD, also speaks of the “house of evidence,” meaning that randomized controlled trials is not always the most appropriate standard for evidence.

As we say elsewhere on this website, we aren’t selling anything, we aren’t beholden to any interest, we aren’t recommending therapies, and we are always ready to change our minds if someone gives us a better approach or presents evidence we haven’t considered. Moreover, we welcome different voices on LHC, so if you have something valuable to say we’d like permission to consider quoting you.

It will take us time to build out the health professional dimension of this website. We welcome your suggestions, especially quotable ones.

LHC Audiences

LHC has two primary audiences:

Motivated cancer patients (and their support people) who are looking for resources, information and guidance to help them understand the complex choices they encounter in going beyond conventional cancer therapies.

Healthcare professionals who are 1) looking for additional resources and information to share with their patients interested in going beyond conventional cancer therapies, and/or, 2) looking for more information about integrative cancer care to shore up their own knowledge base and support their patients who want an integrative approach to their care.

Some sections of the website are written for the patient, while others, particularly the therapy summaries, are written with both the patient and the healthcare professional in mind.

Integrative Oncology Care

No matter where or how it’s practiced, integrative oncology care requires a team of knowledgeable and skilled professionals who work collaboratively, who communicate with each other and respect each other’s contribution to the care of the person with cancer.

If you are not familiar with integrative oncology care and the complementary approaches which are included in an integrative oncology treatment plan, we applaud you for interest in learning more. As you explore integrative care options with your patient, we urge you to consider these key points:

Keep an open mind to the possibility that some complementary approaches and off-label drugs can be very useful adjuvants in managing side effects and improving quality of life. In some cases, these therapies enhance conventional treatment effectiveness through synergistic interactions, radio/chemoprotectant activity, anticancer effects, and/or alteration of the tumor microenvironment.

Avoid assumptions that discount complementary therapies as either harmless, a waste of time and money or dangerous. The first assumption (harmless) leads to advice such as “Go ahead and try it, it can’t hurt you.” The second (a waste of time and money) leads to statements that are discouraging and dismissive of what the patient considers valuable. The last assumption (dangerous) may be inaccurate for the particular therapy the patient is considering and prevent you from learning of the risks and benefits and exploring these with your patient.

Integrating Complementary Therapies

This website does not pull together an individualized integrative oncology plan for the patient, even though it can provide the ability to search for a list, for instance, of all the therapies that have some evidence for usefulness for a certain cancer or symptom. Integrative cancer care is no different from any good medical care which must consider the disease, the possible treatments and the patient in developing a plan of care.

Use medical advocates, cancer guides and integrative oncology navigators

Although “one-stop” integrative oncology practices may be ideal, particularly for those patients wanting this kind of approach, they can be uncommon in some areas. However, integrative care is available anywhere that professionals are willing to coordinate patient care. No matter where or how it’s practiced, integrative oncology care requires a team of knowledgeable and skilled professionals who work collaboratively, who communicate with each other and respect each other’s contribution to the care of the person with cancer.

LHC ALL Therapies

The Information Core of this Site
The therapy summaries include discussions of the state of the scientific evidence for each therapy. We include therapies which may not have robust scientific evidence, but which are generally considered safe, likely to have positive effects, are easily accessible and could be reasonable to try. Finally, we plan to provide—separate from those summaries—reviews of therapies which are questionable or dangerous.

Complementary Medicine Use and Disclosure to Conventional Physicians

An analysis of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data showed that one-third of the adult population in the United States uses complementary therapies, while an analysis the 2007 NHIS found that 64 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches.

Studies have found that more than 40 percent of people using these complementary approaches did not disclose this to their primary care provider. These possible responses were offered to participants regarding their nondisclosure:

  • Belief that the physician did not need to know
  • Past discouragement of use by the physician
  • Potential discouragement of use by the physician
  • Potential negative response from the physician
  • Doubts concerning physician knowledge about complementary therapies
  • Failure of the physician to ask
  • Lack of time
  • Not using complementary therapies at the time of the physician visit

The most commonly cited causes for non-disclosure:

  • Failure of the physician to ask (57 percent)
  • Belief that the physician did not need to know (46.2 percent)
  • Not using complementary therapies at the time of the consultation (26.4 percent)
  • Belief that the physician had less knowledge about the complementary therapies than the participant did (7.6 percent)

A smaller study in Canada found that up to 75 percent of cancer survivors were using complementary therapies. These characteristics were related to greater likelihood of complementary therapy use:

  • High perceived stress
  • Physical symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Spirituality was not significantly related to use.

References and More Information

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