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Most Cancer Patients Want to Discuss Integrative Therapy Before Starting Treatment

Most Cancer Patients Want to Discuss Integrative Therapy Before Starting Treatment


January 19, 2023

4 minute read


Awareness, usage, and attitudes toward holistic integrated oncology among US patients and oncologists. Final Report: September 30, 2022 (updated October 7). Prepared by Iqvia for the Samueli Foundation. Available at: Accessed 9 January 2023.

Disclosure: Jonas reports that he is the executive director of Integrative Health Services for the Samuel Foundation.

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Results from a research study show that patients diagnosed with cancer value interventions that address their mental and emotional well-being.

“Patients don’t just want to live longer, they want a better quality of life.” Wayne Jonas, MD The executive director of the Samueli Foundation’s Integrative Health Program told Healio. “Mental health is very important for patients because cancer creates fear and distress.”

Quote from Wayne Jonas, M.D.

However, oncologists tend to remain focused on radical treatment strategies during the first hours with a patient.

Led by Jonas on behalf of the Samuel Foundation, the research study found that 62% of cancer patients would like to know about complementary therapies such as exercise, nutritional counseling, massage and meditation when starting conventional treatment. was shown to exist. .

The survey included more than 1,000 patients and 150 oncologists diagnosed with cancer in the past two years. Patients were found to strongly prefer cancer care that integrated a holistic approach. Additionally, 40% of his cancer patients said they would have chosen a hospital that offered integrative care if given another chance. 76% of oncologists said they would like to learn more about complementary therapies.

Jonas spoke to Healio about the benefits of complementary and integrative therapies, differences in attitudes between patients and oncologists, and the need to educate oncologists about the value of integrative medicine.

Healio: Why do you think there is such a gap between patient attitudes and oncologist attitudes towards complementary therapies?

Jonas: Physicians are busy treating cancer and it is and should be their number one priority, but they often lose sight of their patients in the process. Paying attention to the whole person is a challenge. It asks them to do more than they might be trained and have time. The Samuel Foundation operates an integrated oncology leadership collaboration that includes mainstream centers such as Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of California, Irvine. We examined current guidelines for oncologists from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, ASCO, and others. Many integrated approaches are already incorporated into these guidelines. for example, new guidelines The Society of Integrated Oncology and ASCO for Pain Management recommend many of these treatments.

It’s difficult to talk to patients about integrated services when you’re just focused on killing cancer cells. Some centers do, but they have to make an extra effort and it can be difficult, especially when you are sick. , there may be fears of being told to avoid them, fired or scolded.

hello: What are the patient access barriers? integrated care?

Jonas: One of the main barriers is the lack of clear and authoritative information. When patients “Dr. Google” the Internet, they receive a barrage of confusing and contradictory information. Amazingly, many defy conventional care. It is difficult for patients to sort reliable information from unreliable information. Many good and authoritative resources are often technically difficult to understand.

Another factor is that patients do not always know where to get integrated care. Some hospitals offer free assistance and integration services for cancer patients, but no one is talking about these services at the oncology center, so patients may not know where to go. .

Payment is another matter.Patients may find that acupunctureyoga, or some kind of mind-body approach can help, but these are often not covered by insurance. , the problem may be exacerbated.

Finally, it turns out that many patients don’t want to spend more time than necessary thinking about how to deal with their cancer. Spending more time on treatment causes it. Cancer patients want to live normal lives, not become professional patients. They may be willing to participate in approaches such as yoga and mind-body practices for their general well-being, but are reluctant to do so because of their cancer.

hello: Why do cancer patients value complementary interventions that are not curative treatments?

Jonas: The general public has come to understand that it is essential to care for the whole person, not just treat the disease. not. Some people may hear the word “cancer” and think “I will die”. A heart attack is also a threat, but we usually don’t have time to think about it. When you have cancer, you spend a lot of time thinking about it, and that fear persists during and after treatment. People worry about labs and scans. That is why reducing fear becomes so important. That is why mind and body training and spiritual support are so important. As physicians and clinicians, we need to empower them to be their own advocates and to empower them to be their own advocates. is needed. If you feel like you can do something, you will have less fear.

hello: your research Indicated 76% of oncologists would like to learn more about complementary therapies combined with traditional medicine. Do you think oncologists need further education in this field?

Jonas: I was happy to see that statistic, and it surprised me the most. The oncologist said not only did 76% want to learn more about integrative medicine, but more than 60% said they thought complementary therapies would be beneficial. The fact that two-thirds of oncologists want to learn more shows that we need to provide a way for them to learn about it. They want to learn, but face the same dilemma that patients need to know where to get good, reliable information. The oncologist says he gets this information from organizations such as ASCO and NCCN, and that these organizations need to develop more integrated oncology teaching tools, for which he should provide CME credit. think.

For more information:

Wayne Jonas, medical doctor, Contact: Samueli Foundation, 6009 Beech Tree Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22310; Email: [email protected].




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