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Integrating CAM Not a ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Physicians

Integrating CAM Not a ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Physicians

ARLINGTON, Va—Cancer patients often distinguish between curing a disease and healing the illness, between alleviating pain and alleviating suffering, Michael Lerner, PhD, said at the Comprehensive Cancer Care 2000 conference. He defined healing as the inner human potential to become whole.

A “vital quartet” of spiritual, psychological, nutritional, and physical approaches could help patients heal, feel better, and get healthier, said Dr. Lerner, president and co-founder of Common-weal, Bolinas, California.

Such multimodal approaches to cancer are nothing new, he said, and the addition of new modalities does not involve a paradigm shift for doctors or patients.

Conventional medicine, he said, has long accepted that better quality of life (QOL) and improved functional status are predictors of better outcomes. If healing work by cancer patients enhances QOL and functional status, Dr. Lerner suggested, these efforts may contribute to better outcomes.

Although he advocates integrating conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), Dr. Lerner noted that cures are more likely to come from conventional medicine, given its strong scientific and technologic basis. His own research into hundreds of CAM studies over the last 15 years have made it clear that no definitive cure has emerged from CAM. There is, however, increasing scientific and anecdotal evidence that some patients do better physically as well as psychologically if conventional and CAM therapies are integrated in their treatment, he added.

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