Medical Oncology

, 34:155 | Cite as

Effect of a 12-week integrative oncology intervention on gastro-intestinal concerns in patients with gynecological and breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy

  • Ilanit Shalom-Sharabi
  • Lital Keinan-Boker
  • Noah Samuels
  • Ofer Lavie
  • Efraim Lev
  • Eran Ben-AryeEmail author
Short Communication


Research on the long-term effects of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) is limited. In this study, we explore the impact of a CIM intervention on gastro-intestinal (GI)-related concerns in patients with breast/gynecological cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Patients reporting chemotherapy-related GI concerns were referred by their cancer care providers to a CIM consultation and treatments and assessed at baseline and at 12 weeks. The following tools were used: Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCAW) and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30). The intervention group was subdivided according to adherence to the integrative care program (AIC), defined as attending ≥4 CIM treatments with ≤30 days between each session. Controls chose not to undergo the CIM consultation or treatments. Of 289 patients reporting GI-related concerns, 42 were treated with CIM and optimally assessed (intervention arm; AIC = 33), as were 32 of controls. ESAS scores for appetite and nausea improved more significantly in the intervention group, more so in the AIC subgroup (appetite, p = 0.025; nausea, p = 0.033). MYCAW scores for GI-related concerns also improved in the intervention group, again more so in the adherent subgroup. EORTC scores improved more significantly with respect to global health (p = 0.021) and cognitive functioning (p = 0.031) in the intervention group, when compared to controls. The integration of a 12-week CIM intervention in conventional supportive cancer care may reduce nausea and improve appetite in patients with breast/gynecological cancer undergoing chemotherapy.


Integrative medicine Breast cancer Complementary medicine Chemotherapy Appetite Nausea 



We would like to thank Ms. Ronit Leiba for her assistance in the statistical analysis of the data.

Author’s contribution

Ilanit Shalom-Sharabi, Dr. Noah Samuels and Prof. Eran Ben-Arye contributed to conception and design of the study, acquisition of the data, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafting the article and revising it critically for important content and final approval of the version to be submitted. Prof. Lital Keinan-Boker, Prof. Ofer Lavie and Prof. Efraim Lev helped in conception and design of the study, drafting the article and revising it critically for important content and final approval of the version to be submitted.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Integrative Oncology Program, The Oncology Service, Lin Medical CenterClalit Health Services, Haifa and Western Galilee DistrictHafiaIsrael
  2. 2.The Graduate Studies AuthorityUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  3. 3.School of Public Health, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health SciencesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  4. 4.Israel Center for Disease ControlIsrael Ministry of HealthRamat GanIsrael
  5. 5.Tal Center for Integrative Oncology, Institute of OncologySheba Medical CenterTel HashomerIsrael
  6. 6.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gynecologic Oncology ServiceCarmel Medical CenterHaifaIsrael
  7. 7.Department of Israel StudiesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  8. 8.Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of MedicineTechnion-Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael

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