Alternatives may aid traditional treatment

Practising integrative medicine gives a different perspective to medical practice. This is never more obvious than when you are dealing with patients who have cancer.

In general practice we meet patients at all stages of the cancer journey, from opportunistic screening resulting in a chance or expected diagnosis, through surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and then the recovery and rehabilitation process.

It is a widely accepted statistic that about 80% of patients with cancer use some form of complementary therapies. I have spoken to oncologists who believe most of the other 20% are probably not telling the truth. Certainly in my practice, almost every patient has used or is interested in treatments in addition to what the cancer units offer them.

There are all sorts of reasons people pursue an integrative approach. These usually come down to reducing the side-effects of cancer treatment (nausea, fatigue, pain, depression), accelerating recovery