Naturopathic Oncology Care for Thoracic Cancers: A Practice Survey

Integr Cancer Ther. 2018 Sep;17(3):793-805. doi: 10.1177/1534735418759420. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Background and objectives: There is a lack of information on therapies recommended by naturopathic doctors (NDs) for lung and gastroesophageal cancer care. Study objectives were to: (1) identify the most common interventions considered for use by NDs; (2) identify interventions NDs recommend to support key therapeutic goals; and (3) identify potential contraindications between integrative and conventional therapies.

Methods: Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) members (n = 351) were invited to complete an electronic survey. Respondents provided information on interventions considered for thoracic cancer pre- and postoperatively across 4 therapeutic domains (supplemental natural health products, physical, mental/emotional, and nutritional), therapeutic goals, and contraindications. This survey was part of the development of the Thoracic Perioperative Integrative Surgical Evaluation trial.

Results: Forty-four NDs completed the survey (12.5% response rate), all of whom were trained at accredited colleges in North America and the majority of whom were Fellows of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO) (56.8%). NDs identified significantly more interventions in the postoperative compared to preoperative setting. The most frequently identified interventions included modified citrus pectin, arnica, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, probiotics, exercise, acupuncture, meditation, stress reduction, low glycemic index diet, and Mediterranean diet. Potential contraindications with conventional treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) differed across natural health products.

Conclusions: These findings highlight naturopathic interventions with a high level of use in thoracic cancer care, describe and characterize therapeutic goals and the interventions used to achieve these goals, and provide insight on how practice changes relative to conventional cancer treatment phase.

Keywords: complementary and alternative medicine; esophageal cancer; gastric cancer; integrative oncology; lung cancer; mental-emotional interventions; natural health products; naturopathic medicine; naturopathic oncology; nutrition; physical interventions; surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Medical Oncology / statistics & numerical data
  • Naturopathy / methods*
  • Naturopathy / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care Planning / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Period
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preoperative Period
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology