Integrative oncology is a holistic medical concept for the treatment of cancer, which combines conventional and evidence-based complementary therapies. The aim of this integrative approach is to reduce the side effects of toxic treatments, to improve the quality of life, and prolong the life expectancy of a cancer patient. In addition, an integrative oncology program will enable cancer patients to better cope with their disease and activate their self-healing powers (salutogenesis).
In the search to find something additional to fight the disease and to improve the quality of life, the terms alternative, complementary, and integrative are often used interchangeably and without differentiation in the same context, both by the patients and by the therapist. The terms are therefore defined briefly below:
- Alternative treatment measures or processes are those which are used instead of conventional medicine standards. Alternative treatment methods should therefore only be used if no useful conventional treatment measure is available. However, caution is recommended here as there are many examples of how real chances of a cure are missed by alternative treatments and by dispensing with the standard treatment.
- Complementary treatments are treatment measures from natural medicine, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, physics, and psychology, which are used to supplement conventional therapy. They lie outside the established, conventional standards and do not have the same degree of clinical certainty as the methods of evidence-based medicine. They do, however, display the prerequisites for a clinical trial, often on the basis of empirical observations and scientific basic research.
- Integrative treatment is the use of conventional therapy in connection with complementary treatment measures, in which it is attempted to combine the treatments conceptually in the interests of the Patient.