Complementary therapies at treatment centers?


Question from Jean Van Etten: What is the future of some of these complementary services at treatment centers? What will it take for more to offer them to patients?
Answers - Lorenzo Cohen One of the challenges in the field of conventional medicine is that everything tends to be based on what is called "evidence-based" medicine. Typically, that means preparing. It also means intervention, whether that be something you take as a pill from a pharmaceutical company compared to an herbal remedy, or whether it's acupuncture compared to a placebo needle. But in reality, when conventional physicians practice medicine, it's surprising to many but true that they don't always practice evidence-based medicine. It's interesting when it comes to prescribing a pharmaceutical drug that if it is done off-label (they are using the drug for an indication of which there isn't strong evidence in terms of randomized placebo trials), that is often accepted. However, if that same physician were to use an herb for that same condition, that is somehow viewed very differently.

I think that the major medical centers in this country have now accepted this field of integrative medicine in some form or another. I work at M.D. Anderson, one of the largest and most respected cancer centers in the country. We have had an incorporation of these complementary modalities since 1998. At that time we were the first comprehensive cancer center to have such an on-site facility. Very shortly after that, many of our competitors across the country opened similar centers. I think within the next decade, there will be a minority of medical centers that don't offer some form of treatment modalities that are covered under the umbrella of complementary and integrative medicine. I feel that it's not going to move forward just because of the evidence. The evidence is important, and more research showing what works and what doesn't work will be useful. But it's also having the medical establishment learn the difference between curing and healing.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2007, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Complementary Medicine Techniques. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about different types of complementary techniques and how they can help during and after breast cancer treatment.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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