An Integrated Approach to Cancer Management
An Integrated Approach to Cancer Management
An Integrated Approach to Cancer Management
An Integrated Approach to Cancer Management

Integrative oncology is all about a more holistic approach to dealing with cancer. It is interesting to note that conventional medicine considers that it is becoming more and more holistic. What is meant by this is that people with cancer now have a bigger team working with them including social workers, psychologists and medical specialists such as oncologists, surgeons and physicians.

In a recent correspondence with a professor of medicine about the subject of integrative medicine he remarked that conventional medicine was already integrative… any approach or treatment including natural medicines was being subject to scientific investigation and if it passed the test of science then it was ‘integrated’ into that conventional model.

This is not my understanding of ‘integrative’ because it is based on a paradigm that in itself is not holistic and therefore cannot form the basis for an integrative oncology.


Cancer is a complex condition and cannot be defined merely by the presence of a lesion called cancer as in the conventional viewpoint. The cancer as a lesion or tumour is the end result of a long process of dysfunctional activities in the body creating an environment in which cells become cancerous. Cancer cells under the microscope are abnormally shaped, inconsistently formed, and disorganised, containing misshapen internal structures.

This would not happen if the regulating mechanisms were functioning normally, as their role is to prevent this from happening. So while the earliest changes may have to do with an alteration in the genetic components, this would normally be repaired or rendered harmless by the immune system. If the system is faulty then cancer cells may begin to multiply.

So the problem of cancer begins right here where the system becomes faulty and can no longer carry out these vital functions. This is also the basis of all ill health not just cancer, but in cancer the particular breakdown seems to affect the DNA which controls cell multiplication and growth.

In this model then the primary fact about cancer is not the tumour but the body or patient as a living system which has lost control because of many factors that interfere with health promotion. This would be similar to the idea that hay fever is not due to the allergen only – more important is the susceptibility of the system. Without the susceptibility there would be no hay fever condition. Removing the allergen only does not cure the person. Only if the susceptibility is removed can one talk about a cure.

In a similar way removing the cancer only cannot be a cure because the cancer is the end result of a whole chain of events starting with a dysfunction in the system. It is the dysfunction that must be treated together with tumour ablation where possible. It makes no sense to remove the cancer and then claim that the person is cured because the mass has been completely removed. The cancerous process has not been dealt with and most people recognise this truth yet medical professionals are not equipped to deal with this problem in a holistic way.


The holistic management of cancer is based on the premise that the cancerous process can only be apprehended by the body’s own innate healing potential which has the basic intelligence and know-how to move from dysfunction to health. In order to do this it requires all the building blocks necessary for maximising healthy processes. These building blocks include vitamins and minerals but also a range of other nutrients used by the body to function optimally such as all the essential fatty acids, amino acids and fats containing powerful natural chemicals, many of which are even anti-cancer in action. Food is complex, so highly complex that biochemists still struggle to understand how the body utilises these different molecular complexes. Clearly the better the quality of the food, the less polluted and closer to its biological natural identity, the fuller will be the benefits for the body.

Integrative doctors and other health professionals have also recognised that often despite the body receiving all the good things in optimum doses, this does not translate into health or even an improvement of the condition. There are two important reasons for this:

  • Blocks in the system prevent health from flowing into the dysfunctional area. Most of these blocks are due to environmental poisons or drugs, prescribed or not prescribed.
  • Emotional stress diverts important nutrients or interferes with function. There is also a third factor for those interested in thinking about it which I call ‘psycho-spiritual’. This has to do with the meaning of the illness and its possible teaching for that person.


While integrative cancer centres around the world use many different approaches, nevertheless some basic tenets are common to them all. Characteristically they:

  • Teach and empower individuals to take responsibility for their healing programme. This involves the same approach and discipline as with an alcoholic who has stopped drinking.
  • Emphasise the importance of nutrition as an essential requirement for good health.
  • Recognise the importance of lifestyle as a prerequisite for optimum health (exercise, weight reduction, adequate sleep, relaxation, contemplation, meditation, diet and pollution control).
  • Understand what it means to optimise health and ensure the efficient functioning of all the body organs and systems.
  • Improve health rather than just treating the disease.


This is the vital role of the integrative approach in treating cancer holistically. The conventional model has specialised in dealing with the cancer but has little understanding of what it means to improve function and optimise health. This means that while oncologists are dealing with the cancer, integrative doctors are supporting health in the following ways:

  • Better food choices: I still regard a vegetarian diet as the best cleansing diet in cancer patients but it is important that the person should not lose excessive weight and an amino acid-containing drink may need to be added after some weeks on this diet.
  • The pH of the blood should be more alkaline as too much acidity tends to favour cancer growth. Take an alkaline drink daily. This may be in the form of vegetable juices or other alkaline juices such as wheat grass or barley grass juice.
  • Improve the oxygen supply to the body as cancers tend to grow better and faster in the absence of oxygen (deep breathing exercises, ozone therapy, and hydrogen peroxide).
  • Restore bowel health: (i) deal with leaky gut syndrome, (ii) re-inoculate beneficial flora, (iii) use prebiotic supplements, (iv) deal with parasites, (v) treat constipation.
  • Correct nutritional deficiencies including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, glycoproteins and amino acids.
  • Cleanse the blood of toxic acids and other metabolic toxins such as homocysteine, uric acid, free radicals, products of methylation, and insulin excess.
  • Detoxify the liver and blood.
  • Reduce the cumulative body burden of toxic metals and synthetic toxins (chelation, spirulina, chlorella, barley green, etc.).
  • Support the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas and hormones with natural precursors and bio-identical hormones.
  • Introduce Spirit-mind-body work to develop inner peace and tranquility with better stress management (psycho-neuroimmunology, hypnosis, psychotherapy and meditation are some options).


The aim of this article has been to give an overview of the scope needed to develop an integrative approach to the management of people with cancer rather than just the treatment of cancer. The treatment of cancer alone has not been a success and this should be obvious to anyone involved in the cancer industry. This is not surprising. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery which are the basic approaches of conventional medicine are invasive, destructive and poisonous to health. They may be the best that conventional medicine can do at the moment but this approach is limited and much more public money should be spent on looking for ways to improve the body’s own innate capacity to heal itself of cancer than on these destructive approaches.

Spontaneous cancer remissions are a recognised phenomenon.1 This occurrence suggests that the self-healing mechanisms in the body can make a breakthrough and lead to the complete cure of the person. The research work of Dr David Spiegel has shown that breast cancer patients who participated in a support group survived twice as long on average as those who did not.2 Other studies have shown similar trends. This means that innate processes within the body can reverse cancer. While spontaneous remissions are rare the fact that many cancer patients live longer or shorter than expected and that this is often dependent on their attitude and support of others should encourage scientists to research not only how to destroy cancer but how to switch on the healing process that leads to more health.


1. O’Regan B, Hirshberg C. Spontaneous Remissions. An Annotated Bibliography. California: Institute of Noetic Science, 1993.

2. Spiegel D, et al. Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Lancet 1989; 2: 888-891

continue to top