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J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52). doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgx012.

A Comprehensive Definition for Integrative Oncology.

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Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Zurich and University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; Breast Cancer Unit, Champalimaud Cancer Center, Lisbon, Portugal; Mama Help Association, Support Centre for Breast Cancer Patients, Porto, Portugal; Integrative Medicine Program, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, and Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, New York, NY; Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Atlanta, GA; NorCal CarciNET Community, Oakland, CA; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.



Integrative oncology, which is generally understood to refer to the use of a combination of complementary medicine therapies in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments, has been defined in different ways, but there is no widely accepted definition. We sought to develop and establish a consensus for a comprehensive definition of the field of integrative oncology.


We used a mixed-methods approach that included a literature analysis and a consensus procedure, including an interdisciplinary expert panel and surveys, to develop a comprehensive and acceptable definition for the term "integrative oncology."


The themes identified in the literature and from the expert discussion were condensed into a two-sentence definition. Survey respondents had very positive views on the draft definition, and their comments helped to shape the final version. The final definition for integrative oncology is: "Integrative oncology is a patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. Integrative oncology aims to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before,during, and beyond cancer treatment."


This short and comprehensive definition for the term integrative oncology will facilitate a better understanding and communication of this emerging field. This definition will also drive focused and cohesive effort to advance the field of integrative oncology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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