Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 2267–2273 | Cite as

Integrative medicine and the oncology patient: options and benefits

  • Karen Armstrong
  • Thomas LanniJr.
  • Maureen M. Anderson
  • Gail Elliott PatricoloEmail author
Original Article


Cancer is a major public health problem, and cancer patients and survivors face many physical and emotional challenges after the initial diagnosis, through treatment, and in the post-treatment period. Different integrative medicine (IM) modalities can be used to mitigate some of the physical issues that originate from the cancer itself or the treatment and to promote well-being and emotional health. Here, we discuss how an IM Department can function in a hospital system, particularly with regard to oncology patients, the modalities appropriate for oncology patients, how these modalities can benefit this patient population, and the role of IM in cancer survivorship. A dedicated IM Department that works with oncologists provides support and care for the whole person. These different modalities work together to reduce pain, anxiety, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and peripheral neuropathy, while promoting immune function and improving sleep, range of motion, and an overall sense of well-being. However, each modality has different contraindications for the oncology patient, and proper training is required for safe and effective care. We illustrate how IM can be a valuable component of the care of the oncology patient.


Integrative medicine Cancer Oncology patients Oncology massage Acupuncture Naturopathic oncology 



The authors thank Christine Billecke, PhD from Billecke Medical Writing, LLC, for her assistance in preparing this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Armstrong
    • 1
  • Thomas LanniJr.
    • 2
  • Maureen M. Anderson
    • 1
  • Gail Elliott Patricolo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Integrative MedicineBeaumont HealthRoyal OakUSA
  2. 2.Oncology, Medicine, and Imaging, Beaumont Cancer InstituteBeaumont HealthRoyal OakUSA

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