The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), an international organization established in 2003 to encourage scientific evaluation, dissemination of evidence-based information, and appropriate clinical integration of complementary therapies, recently issued practice guidelines regarding the use of nonconventional treatment modalities. The guidelines offer recommendations regarding mind-body modalities, manipulative and body-based practices, energy therapies, acupuncture, botanicals, vitamins, and other supplements.
As noted in the Executive Summary of the guidelines,
Health care professionals should be able to provide evidence-based, patient-centered advice to guide patients to receive benefit while avoiding harm. A panel of experts in oncology and integrative medicine was assembled to evaluate the current level of evidence regarding complementary therapies relevant to the care of cancer patients. Specific recommendations are made based on the strength of evidence and the risks/benefit ratio.
Published in the spring issue of the Journal of the Society of Integrative Oncology (5:65-84, 2007), the guidelines were written by Gary E. Deng, Barry R. Cassileth, Lorenzo Cohen, Jyothirmai Gubili, Peter A.S. Johnstone, Nagi Kumar, and Andrew Vickers, and approved by the SIO's Executive Committee, which includes Donald Abrams, Lorenzo Cohen, Peter A.S. Johnstone, David Rosenthal, Stephen Sagar, and Dibu Tripathy.
The SIO guidelines emphasize the distinction between "complementary" and "alternative" therapies. Complementary therapies, note the SIO authors, are supportive measures used as adjuncts to mainstream care. Alternative therapies are scientifically unproven and are used instead of mainstream treatment or offered as viable therapeutic options instead of mainstream care."
A work in progress, the guidelines will be updated as needed and are also available on the SIO website at www.IntegrativeOnc.org.