What is integrative cancer care?

An integrative cancer care approach combines conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, immune therapy, and surgery with evidence-based complementary therapies, lifestyle changes, and psychological support.

The main goals are to broaden the patient’s treatment options, to reduce side effects of toxic therapies, to increase treatment efficacy by a multi-pronged approach, and to empower patients to engage in their own treatment process. There are enormous strengths to both, conventional treatments and complementary approaches.

While conventional cancer treatments are usually focused on removing or killing cancer cells (cyto reduction), an integrative cancer treatment approach sees the cancerous tumor as a mere symptom of an underlying cancer disease, for which the root causes must be addressed. This includes changing the “terrain”, in which the cancer was allowed to develop, removing facilitating circumstances and drivers of cancer growth, and improving weak cancer immunity and overall health of a cancer patient.

Pfeifer Protocol great rounds
“Historically, it’s been an ‘either/or’ situation between conventional medicine and other approaches, which has often placed patients in an extremely difficult position at one of the most stressful points in their lives.”

Conventional cancer therapies focus on destroying cancer cells (‘seeds’) of primary tumor and metastases.

ICC The seed and the soil metaphor

Integrative cancer treatments focus on both, the destruction of cancer cells (‘seeds’) and the fortification of the microenvironment or terrain (‘soil’) surrounding the cancerous lesions in the hope to create an unfavorable environment for cancer growth and heal the cancer disease on all levels – body, mind and spirit.

The “seed & soil” metaphor

When the cancer disease is represented by a plant, the cancerous cells can be seen as the ‘seeds’, and the surrounding tissue (also called micro-environment or terrain) as the ‘soil’. Conventional cancer therapies are preoccupied with removing the ‘seeds’, while the integrative approach to cancer looks after the ‘seed and soil’. Real success in cancer treatment can only be achieved with a combined approach, namely removing all seeds, and healing the soil at the same time.

The “seed and soil” hypothesis, referred to in the metaphor, was first published by Stephen Paget in 1889 and still is recognized and widely accepted today. Since more than a century, we know that certain tumors exhibit a predilection for metastases to specific organs. This organ-preference pattern of tumor metastases formation is the result of highly specific interactions between metastatic tumor cells (the seeds) and the tissue microenvironment or terrain, in which cancer grows (the soil).

During the last century, we have observed an explosion in our cancer knowledge base, including the latest technological progress in gene sequencing and molecular profiling. An extensive collection of experimental research and clinical data is now revealing valuable details about the interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment, consisting of stromal cells and the extracellular matrix. We know today that the fate of a metastatic cancer cell depends on its ability to trigger various homeostatic mechanisms in this tissue microenvironment, thereby promoting cell growth, cell survival, invasion of microenvironment, angiogenesis, and clonal expansion to form a metastasis.

Understanding those interactions will help us to target important molecules and/or pathways in the crosstalk between cancer cells and their microenvironment and hopefully lead to better strategies for prevention and treatment of metastatic disease which remains the major cause of cancer-related death today.

“There is a lot you can achieve by working with the person as a whole rather than just focusing on the symptoms.”
Silvia Grisendi, Nutritional Therapist and Holistic Health Coach

Integrative Cancer Care – Our approach

Our Vision

We aim to reduce suffering from cancer by:

  • Providing best diagnostic and treatment advice through a panel of renown international medical experts (Virtual International Tumor Board)
  • Actively reaching out to as many cancer patients as possible to increase their chances for cure or better outcome regardless of location or socio-economic background 
  • Always keeping the patients’ integrity in the center of our holistic approach
  • Dedicating our combined research- and clinical expertise to the welfare of our patients

Our Mission

Our core missions are:

  • Advising cancer patients without prejudice on the most appropriate, most effective, evidence-based, diagnostics and treatments available for them
  • Empowering cancer patients in the process of choosing the best approach to maintain the highest degree of wellness possible during all phases of their disease
  • Collaborating as a team with our patients, their primary physicians, and other caretakers
  • Providing our patients access to powerful, innovative and cost effective integrative therapies at our partner clinics and hospitals worldwide, always with honesty and transparency

Our Vision

We aim to reduce suffering from cancer by:

  • Providing best diagnostic and treatment advice through a panel of renown international medical experts (Virtual International Tumor Board)
  • Actively reaching out to as many cancer patients as possible to increase their chances for cure or better outcome regardless of location or socioeconomic background
  • Always keeping the patients’ integrity in the center of our holistic approach
  • Dedicating our combined research- and clinical expertise to the welfare of our patients
Integrative-cancer-care-Our-Vision

Our Mission

Our core missions are:

  • Advising cancer patients without prejudice on the most appropriate, most effective, evidence-based, diagnostics and treatments available for them
  • Empowering cancer patients in the process of choosing the best approach to maintain the highest degree of wellness possible during all phases of their disease
  • Collaborating as a team with our patients and their primary physicians and cancer specialists
  • Providing our patients access to powerful, innovative and cost effective integrative therapies at our partner clinics and hospitals worldwide, always with honesty and transparency
Integrative-cancer-care-Our-Mission

Our Values

Integrative-cancer-care-values-human-centered

Human Centered

The cancer patient must always be in the middle of all interests. We strive to empower our patients to actively participate in decision-making at all stages of their cancer journey.

We provide the most accurate spectrum of options that suits our patients’ needs & their condition. Our patients will feel listened to at every step through their disease. Our team and complementary medicine specialists will offer their support wherever it is most needed.

Integrative-cancer-care-values-Integrative

Integrative

While conventional cancer care only deals with the “seed”, meaning the visible tumor of the patient, our approach is integrating the “soil & the seed” in any treatment decision in order to also address possible contributing factors for cancer to develop.

Our evidence-based treatments focus on the body as a “whole”. We include body, mind and spirit treatment measures to improve our patient’s quality of life and do our best to increase their lifespan with good quality of life.

Integrative-cancer-care-values-Honesty-Transparency

Honesty & Transparency

We always provide our patients with truthful, comprehensive, and independent information regarding their disease and the best, evidence-based treatment options for their specific situation. Honesty and transparency in this process is one of the main pillars of our integrative approach.

We go the extra mile for our patients, when it comes to researching the best treatment options. We believe this allows extra time and empowers our patients to make their decisions with peace of mind. We are fully committed to provide accurate information, not false hope.

Integrative-cancer-care-values-leading-edge

Leading-Edge

Cancer disease is a chronic condition motivating scientists and medical doctors all over the world to develop new, effective solutions for treatment and cure of patients.

We do our best to stay on top of the full spectrum of leading-edge diagnostics and treatments available worldwide, so our cancer patients will not miss out on any chances.

A lack of knowledge can lead to poor decision making, which is why we consider research and innovation as a top priority in our approach.

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Key facts about an integrative approach to cancer treatment

Lifestyle matters

“With the proportion of cancers attributed to lifestyle ranging from 60% to well over 90%, depending on who you ask, there is no credible rationale for overlooking lifestyle approaches.”
Source: WHO
Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.”
Source: WHO

Recognition of the integrative approach to cancer is rising in the medical world

“The number of US hospitals offering integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, therapeutic touch, and guided imagery, has increased from 8% in 1998 to 42% in 2010. Many academic cancer centers offer these integrative practices as part of a full spectrum of care. Other hospitals offer programs in integrative women’s health, cardiology, and pain management.”
Source: The American Journal of Integrative Medicine
“More and more patients seek integrative medicine practitioners. By 2007, approximately 40% of adult Americans and 12% of children were using some form of alternative therapies compared with 33% in 1991”
Source: Barnes P.M. / Bloom B. / Nahin R.L. 
Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. National health statistics report; no. 12