An Overwhelming Need
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am witness to the overwhelming need for holistic cancer care. In the United States alone, approximately 2.0 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. It is no surprise that the demand for complementary and alternative medicine among cancer patients ranges from 22% to 91%. Responding to this demand, the profession of naturopathic oncology has flourished, with 115 board-certified Fellows of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. This growth is driven by the desire for integrative cancer treatments and the growing body of research supporting the safety and effectiveness of natural and supportive therapies.
Throughout my medical training, I have learned the importance of collaboration and mutual respect among healthcare providers. Naturopathic Doctors, like myself, are not seeking to replace the crucial role of Medical Oncologists. In fact, we actively support advanced training for Naturopathic Doctors in Oncology through organizations like OncANP. Those who successfully complete this training earn the esteemed status of Fellow from the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), signifying their commitment to the highest standards of the profession.
Naturopathic Doctors hold conventional treatments in high regard, recognizing their integral role in controlling cancer progression and achieving remission. The strength of naturopathic medicine lies in its team-based approach. By collaborating with cancer specialists, we can effectively manage and alleviate the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Leveraging the diverse expertise of our colleagues, we tailor treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each patient.
The Patient-Centered Process
Before a patient’s initial visit, our team requests copies of essential information to ensure a comprehensive assessment during the new patient intake. We review notes from their medical oncologist, past laboratory studies, and details of their conventional treatment, including their chemotherapy infusion schedule if applicable.
During the first visit, we prioritize getting to know our patients on a personal level. This crucial encounter spans 90 minutes, allowing us to delve deeply into their past and current health history. We understand that this process can be emotional and overwhelming, which is why we encourage patients to bring along their support network for their initial appointment.
Uncovering the root cause of illness requires an in-depth intake. We evaluate environmental factors, including occupation and work environment, recognizing that certain exposures may contribute to cancer development or affect treatment outcomes. By understanding these factors, we can provide tailored recommendations to minimize potential risks.
Lifestyle choices play a significant role in cancer prevention and management. We delve into diet, sleep habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use, recognizing their impact on overall health and treatment outcomes. Our goal is to empower patients with evidence-based guidance on making positive changes that support their healing process.
Allergies, whether related to medications, dietary factors, or environmental triggers, are always accounted for. By identifying and addressing allergens, we aim to optimize treatment outcomes and minimize potential adverse reactions.
Relevant family history is a crucial aspect of our assessment, as genetic factors can influence cancer risk and treatment response. We consider familial patterns and potential hereditary conditions to guide our personalized treatment plans.
Comorbid conditions, if present, are thoroughly evaluated to understand their potential impact on the disease trajectory and treatment options. By taking into account the patient’s overall health, we can develop a comprehensive plan that considers their specific needs and ensures the best possible outcomes.
After gathering all the necessary information, we collaborate with the Medical Oncologist to ensure alignment and consensus regarding the treatment plan. Once the entire care team is in agreement, we maintain regular communication with the patient and begin implementing the recommended strategies.
Big thank you to Dr. Ruch for sharing her expertise in integrative cancer care. We are lucky to have her on the team and will be back next week with part two!