What is an Integrative Oncologist?

Suzanne Somers, in her book entitled Knockout, writes about her journey into the netherworld of cancer care. After surviving breast cancer, as well as a medical mishap that mistakenly led her to believe her previous malignancy had now spread throughout her body, Somers is a passionate about letting other patients know about the field of integrative oncology.

Her book is available on Amazon and it’s also sold through other outlets, such as barnesandnoble.com. Much of the information contained in Knockout is based upon interviews with leading integrative oncologists in the United States. Integrative oncology is a newly emerging specialty that combines some aspects of conventional medicine with various alternative therapies.

For instance, patients typically have access to the latest diagnostic tests, and their tumor regression is closely monitored. Some integrative doctors do use chemotherapy, but in lower, less toxic doses. This is much less likely to cause the unpleasant side effects normally associated with conventional cancer care.

Other naturopathic oncologists do not use these chemicals to treat cancer, but, instead, attack it with natural, plant-based compounds. Patients are also given dietary supplements to kick-start their immune systems, so their bodies can fight the malignancies.

One of the doctors interviewed by Somers is named Dr. James W. Forsythe, MD, who has an integrative oncology practice in Reno, Nevada. He is a firm believer in the importance of a good diet, both in terms of preventing the disease and in rallying the body’s defenses once the disease is diagnosed.

Dr. Forsythe urges patients to explore all of their options, and not to panic if they learn they have cancer. Trained as a conventional oncologist, he disagrees with the current way chemotherapy drugs are dispensed, in large doses that cause numerous, and potentially life-threatening, side effects. Although this is once the way he treated patients, as this is what he was taught, he had a change of heart after reviewing medical literature that showed dubious benefits.

He eventually cut ties with the major medical center that employed him.

Like many integrative oncologists throughout the United States, Dr. Forsythe now has a private clinic. Although integrative oncologists have medical degrees and a license to practice, not all insurance companies will reimburse you for their services.

Flickr photo (thumbnail) by KOMUnews