Integrative oncology: really the best of both worlds?

Abstract

Over the past two decades there has been a growing acceptance of 'integrative oncology', also known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), in cancer care and research at academic medical centres and medical schools. Proponents of integrative oncology argue that it is based in science and provides the 'best of both worlds' by combining science-based treatments and 'holistic' medicine. However, a close examination of the methodologies indicates that, from a standpoint of basic science, the vast majority of 'integrative' treatments are supported by little, if any, scientific evidence. What are the consequences of this integration? Is there any harm? Are there any potential benefits?

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Acknowledgements

The author thanks S. Novella for helpful discussions regarding issues relevant to this manuscript, and in particular K. Atwood IV for introducing the author to the concept of science-based medicine.

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Correspondence to David H. Gorski.

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The corresponding author is the chair of the board of directors of the Society for Science-Based Medicine (www.sfsbm.org), an organization dedicated to promoting a strong scientific basis for medicine, and the managing editor of the Science-Based Medicine weblog (www.sciencebasedmedicine.org).

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Gorski, D. Integrative oncology: really the best of both worlds?. Nat Rev Cancer 14, 692–700 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc3822

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