Integrative Cancer Care in an American Academic Cancer Centre: The Memorial Sloan Kettering Experience

Gary Deng


Various surveys show that interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is high among cancer patients. Patients want to explore all options that may help their treatment. Many CAM modalities offer patients an active role in their self care. This sense of empowerment is very appealing to cancer patients. On the other hand, many unscrupulous marketeers promote alternative cancer “cures,” targeting cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable. Some alternative therapies can hurt patients by delaying effective treatment or causing adverse effects or detrimental interaction with other medications. It is not in the cancer patients' best interest if they cannot get appropriate guidance on the use of CAM from the health care professionals who are part of their cancer care team. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York was established in 1999 to address patient’s interests in CAM, to incorporate helpful complementary therapies into patient’s overall treatment management, to guide patients in avoiding harmful alternative therapies, and to develop prospective research to evaluate the efficacy of CAM modalities.

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)