20 June 2018

Complementary Therapies in Breast Cancer

ASCO has endorsed SIO guidelines to encourage clinicians to discuss alternative therapies with patients

Many breast cancer patients will integrate alternative therapies such as supplements, yoga, massage therapy and acupuncture into their clinical treatment journey to help ease both physical and psychological symptoms of cancer therapy. However, there is a lack of evidence for the use of these therapies and as such it is not something which is frequently discussed between patients and clinicians.

Last year the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) updated their guidelines based on a systematic literature review to state that ‘Implementing integrative therapies in a clinical setting requires a coordinated team approach with well‐trained providers’.

ASCO has now endorsed the new guidelines, to help encourage a non-judgemental conversation between clinicians and patients. Whilst most of the alternative therapies that patients use are safe, but there is the potential for supplements to have an interaction with conventional medicine. The hope is that this more open approach will encourage patients to report any problems or side effects.

This marks an important step in clinician-patient relationships which will hopefully support greater openness and discussion. We look forward to exploring this with breast cancer patients and survivors during our next project.