Integrative Medicine: Adjunctive Element or Essential Ingredient in Palliative and Supportive Cancer Care?

Moshe Frenkel, Kenneth Sapire, Judith Lacey, Victor S. Sierpina

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The aim of supportive cancer care is to actively manage patients' physical, psychologic, and spiritual concerns, independent of prognosis. Complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) is increasingly gaining greater acceptance and support for its beneficial value in supportive cancer care. The utilization of CIM early in the cancer trajectory, during treatment and during survivorship periods, as well as during end of life, addresses a great number of unmet needs that patients affected by cancer raise. In addition, recent research supports the role that CIM has in reducing suffering and distress both physically and emotionally, as well as enhancing well-being in patients affected by cancer and their families. CIM is increasingly seen not only as an adjunctive add-on treatment or perhaps even as a luxury item for the affluent but actually as an important component in supportive cancer care for all patients. It addresses many aspects of care that sometimes are not being addressed with conventional means. With the increase in CIM-related research, as well as the increased clinical experience in oncology programs worldwide, CIM is gradually becoming an essential ingredient in supportive and palliative cancer care. In this narrative review, the authors look systematically at the contribution that CIM has in supportive care in each stage of the cancer trajectory, reflecting the needed role that CIM has in supportive care. The presented data will provide a sampling of the available clinical research for each of the broad stages being described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-783
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • cancer care
  • complementary medicine
  • integrative medicine
  • integrative oncology
  • palliative care
  • supportive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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