How to Talk to Your Oncologist about Integrative Cancer Care

Once you are diagnosed with cancer, it’s natural to google what your disease really is as well as what you could be doing for yourself to help improve your chances of survival. This is when many people look for natural alternative therapies. The fact of the matter is that of the roughly 2.5 million patients diagnosed with cancer each year, most will seek some form of “alternative” therapy. Unfortunately, roughly about 70% of those patients will never discuss this with their oncologist. I always urge my patients to discuss all treatments with their oncologist. Keeping your oncologist in the dark about “natural” treatments during active cancer care could actually be doing you more harm than good, this is because some natural treatments can cause potential interactions with your chemotherapy if not used appropriately. This is another reason why I urge patients to work in collaboration with a naturopathic doctor specializing in integrative care as well as their oncologist. The key to success is to create open forms of communication between all involved practitioners. This will allow you to get the best treatment in a safe, effective manner.  Natural medicine can be extremely beneficial during treatment, but like all treatments, it must be done accurately and under proper physician supervision.

Some oncologists or conventional physicians may react negatively when they hear their patients discuss natural medicine. This is in large part actually due to their lack of understanding of natural therapies . So here are some tips on ways to  discuss natural therapies with your entire cancer care team:

  1. Do your research and be prepared to be asked many questions.
  2. Be open and non-confrontational
  3. Make sure you express that you would like integrative care, which means BOTH standard of care medicine as well as supportive natural care. You don’t have to choose one or the other, the whole idea is to create a balance.
  4. Make sure they know that your main goal is to kick cancers butt as well as reduce treatment side effects as much as possible to improve your quality of life. (remember they have the same end goals as you).


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