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Prev Med. 2009 Aug-Sep;49(2-3):93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.05.013. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

The role of integrative oncology in a tertiary prevention survivorship program.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, 3rd Floor, Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8V 5C2.



Since 64% of cancer patients survive more than 5 years beyond diagnosis, oncologists are challenged to expand their focus from acute care to managing the long-term health consequences of cancer treatment and ensuring the integration of cancer prevention into their practices. This review defines the cancer prevention role of integrative oncology as a key component in survivorship programs.


A narrative review consisting of the results of preclinical studies, randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews that may contribute to cancer prevention.


Integrative oncology focuses on the complexities of health and proposes a multitude of approaches. Its categories are mind-body techniques, physical therapies, nutrition plus supplements, and botanicals or natural health products. Behavioral modification, through selected integrative oncology interventions may enhance cancer prevention.


Opportunities exist for oncologists to promote lifestyle changes that improve patients' length and quality of life. Integrative oncology utilizes techniques for self-empowerment, individual responsibility, and lifestyle changes that could potentially reduce both cancer recurrence and second primary tumors. Education in the principles of integrative oncology and evidence-based complementary therapies is lacking. There is a need for studies on cost-utility and effectiveness of whole systems programs of integrative oncology for the tertiary prevention of cancer.

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