Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the first Integrative Oncology Conference, sponsored by the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Integrative Oncology discusses the complex relationship between tumor, host, and dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors, and what can be done to foster an “anti-cancer” diet and life style to help rectify imbalances and reduce the drivers of cancer. I was accompanied by Monika and Arilda.
I went in with an open mind because part of me believes there is a link between Western and Eastern medical philosophies. In traditional Western society, it is commonplace to have concrete measurable evidence to explain how and why things work. Holistic Eastern medicine principles are much harder to explain. I was trained in more “traditional” Western medicine. Eastern Medicine is abstract and difficult to quantify. After a quick online review of a few peer reviewed publications on “non-traditional cancer treatments”, it seems to me that that diet modification and yoga have substancial objective/ “scientific” statistical measures then other complementary /alternative medicine practices. The benefits of Quality of Life (QOL) scales / surveys have been studied extensively and it seems that QOL is a very important measure in Eastern medicine research. These studies are very reliable with specific tests/ questionnaires addressing of QOL. This is very important because I think QOL is an “applied” research measure. I found the conference very interesting because there are more studies popping up on “Eastern medicine” albeit with very small sample sizes. I see very big potential for the application of diet modification and exercise prescription as modalities to assist in management of post tumor/cancer treatment “thrivership”.
Personally, I still don’t fully understand “Eastern medicine”. I’ve always been the curious student that wants to know “why”. I’ve started doing research on the benefits of diet and exercise. That makes sense to me. My mentors in Physical Therapy school looked at the benefits of a moderate intensity exercise program in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. They determined it is safe, and actually can be beneficial to survivors. Ironically, I had radiation therapy after my brain surgery. I felt very prepared for everything I would be up against based on what I was exposed to in school. Exercise remains a very important aspect of my life. I see potential for post treatment exercise programs to be implemented in cancer centers to assist in recovery. I will make clear that post treatment exercise must be monitored in the cancer patient population! This already occurs in the post cardiac surgery and post orthopedic surgery population, so I think that post tumor/cancer surgery would benefit from a monitored exercise/rehab protocol. There are too many benefits of post treatment exercise to outweigh the monitored risks. I think that the social aspects of a post treatment exercise group could become another type of “post treatment support group.”
These were the topics discussed at the conference:
- The Role of Diet in the Development in Cancer
- Dietary Prevention of Cancers of the Breast, Prostate, and Colon
- The Chinese Medical Approach to Cancer
- Dietary & Mind Body Combined Intervention
- Naturopathic Therapeutics for Cancer
- Use of Integrative Medicine in Pediatric Oncology
- Biofield Therapies in Cancer Care
- Cannibus in Pain and Palliative Care
- Overview of Integrative Modalities in the Support of Cancer patients
- Self Expression to Promote Cancer Wellness
- It Takes a Village to Cure a Cancer: The Essential Role of Community in Cancer Care.
“Integrative Oncology” is a very new field in the tumor/cancer realm, but the potential for application is very high. “Thrivers” are unique individuals looking for ways to improve upon themselves. With more evidence based resources and education, the potential for the use of “Integrative Oncology” practices will only grow. This new way of fighting tumors/ cancer is about to raise some more eyebrows.