What Kinds of Doctors and Practitioners Practice Integrative Oncology?

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in Introduction to Integrative Oncology

When you’re fighting for your life, choose a team of wise advisors. The integrative oncology team is a group of natural cancer care experts, all centered on your needs.

To begin with, you are at the center of care. Your integrative oncologists serve you. Please talk with us about your questions, preferences, fears, and hopes. This will help us to guide you to the best health care options for you. For example,while oxaliplatin may be a standard chemotherapy in colon cancer, it has a risk of neuropathy. If you’re a concert pianist, this drug may not be the best choice for you. If you oxaliplatin really is the best choice, then your team can work together to decrease the risk of neuropathy.

Your leader of your conventional care team will likely be a medical oncologist. She will then coordinate care with your surgical and radiation oncologists. For some conditions, a surgical or radiation oncologist, endocrinologist, or urologist may lead the team. For example, early stage prostate cancer is typically managed by a urologist or radiation oncologist rather than a medical oncologist.

The leader of the conventional care team will then refer you to other conventional team members as needed. For example, she may recommend a pulmonologist if you have fluid in the lungs, or a wound care nurse if you have a non-healing wound.

If you are hospitalized, a hospitalist or intensivist will temporarily lead the conventional team while you are in the hospital. These doctors are specialists in hospital medicine or intensive care. Their job is to get you healthy enough to go home from the hospital. As you leave the hospital, they will reconnect you with your medical oncologist to lead your care going forward.

The leader of your natural care team is your naturopathic oncologist. She manages your natural cancer care and coordinates this with your conventional cancer care.

If needed, your naturopathic oncologist can refer you to other helpful natural healthcare providers. Since naturopathic doctors are trained in the full spectrum of natural healthcare, they can help guide you to the most helpful therapies to meet your needs. Supportive natural therapies include acupuncture and Chinese medicine, mind body medicine and counseling, pastoral care, healing touch and bodywork, and aromatherapy.