A Comprehensive Definition for Integrative Oncology

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52). doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgx012.


Background: Integrative oncology, which is generally understood to refer to the use of a combination of complementary medicine therapies in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments, has been defined in different ways, but there is no widely accepted definition. We sought to develop and establish a consensus for a comprehensive definition of the field of integrative oncology.

Methods: We used a mixed-methods approach that included a literature analysis and a consensus procedure, including an interdisciplinary expert panel and surveys, to develop a comprehensive and acceptable definition for the term "integrative oncology."

Results: The themes identified in the literature and from the expert discussion were condensed into a two-sentence definition. Survey respondents had very positive views on the draft definition, and their comments helped to shape the final version. The final definition for integrative oncology is: "Integrative oncology is a patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. Integrative oncology aims to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before,during, and beyond cancer treatment."

Conclusions: This short and comprehensive definition for the term integrative oncology will facilitate a better understanding and communication of this emerging field. This definition will also drive focused and cohesive effort to advance the field of integrative oncology.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy / standards
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Complementary Therapies / standards
  • Humans
  • Integrative Oncology / methods*
  • Integrative Oncology / standards*
  • Integrative Oncology / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Medical Oncology / statistics & numerical data
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires