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Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Patients with breast cancer commonly use complementary and integrative therapies as supportive care during cancer treatment and to manage treatment-related side effects. However, evidence supporting the use of such therapies in the oncology setting is limited. This report provides updated clinical practice guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology on the use of integrative therapies for specific clinical indications during and after breast cancer treatment, including anxiety/stress, depression/mood disorders, fatigue, quality of life/physical functioning, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, lymphedema, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, pain, and sleep disturbance. Clinical practice guidelines are based on a systematic literature review from 1990 through 2015. Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga are recommended for anxiety/stress reduction. Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy are recommended for depression/mood disorders. Meditation and yoga are recommended to improve quality of life. Acupressure and acupuncture are recommended for reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Acetyl-L-carnitine is not recommended to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy due to a possibility of harm. No strong evidence supports the use of ingested dietary supplements to manage breast cancer treatment-related side effects. In summary, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of integrative therapies, especially mind-body therapies, as effective supportive care strategies during breast cancer treatment. Many integrative practices, however, remain understudied, with insufficient evidence to be definitively recommended or avoided. CA Cancer J Clin 2017;67:194-232. (c) 2017 American Cancer Society.
BACKGROUND: The majority of breast cancer patients use complementary and/or integrative therapies during and beyond cancer treatment to manage symptoms, prevent toxicities, and improve quality of life. Practice guidelines are needed to inform clinicians and patients about safe and effective therapies. METHODS: Following the Institute of Medicine's guideline development process, a systematic review identified randomized controlled trials testing the use of integrative therapies for supportive care in patients receiving breast cancer treatment. Trials were included if the majority of participants had breast cancer and/or breast cancer patient results were reported separately, and outcomes were clinically relevant. Recommendations were organized by outcome and graded based upon a modified version of the US Preventive Services Task Force grading system. RESULTS: The search (January 1, 1990-December 31, 2013) identified 4900 articles, of which 203 were eligible for analysis. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation with imagery are recommended for routine use for common conditions, including anxiety and mood disorders (Grade A). Stress management, yoga, massage, music therapy, energy conservation, and meditation are recommended for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life (Grade B). Many interventions (n = 32) had weaker evidence of benefit (Grade C). Some interventions (n = 7) were deemed unlikely to provide any benefit (Grade D). Notably, only one intervention, acetyl-l-carnitine for the prevention of taxane-induced neuropathy, was identified as likely harmful (Grade H) as it was found to increase neuropathy. The majority of intervention/modality combinations (n = 138) did not have sufficient evidence to form specific recommendations (Grade I). CONCLUSIONS: Specific integrative therapies can be recommended as evidence-based supportive care options during breast cancer treatment. Most integrative therapies require further investigation via well-designed controlled trials with meaningful outcomes.
Complementary and integrative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, and yoga, are used by increasing numbers of cancer patients to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. In addition, such treatments may have other important and currently overlooked benefits by reducing tissue stiffness and improving mobility. Recent advances in cancer biology are underscoring the importance of connective tissue in the local tumor environment. Inflammation and fibrosis are well-recognized contributors to cancer, and connective tissue stiffness is emerging as a driving factor in tumor growth. Physical-based therapies have been shown to reduce connective tissue inflammation and fibrosis and thus may have direct beneficial effects on cancer spreading and metastasis. Meanwhile, there is currently little knowledge on potential risks of applying mechanical forces in the vicinity of tumors. Thus, both basic and clinical research are needed to understand the full impact of integrative oncology on cancer biology as well as whole person health. Cancer Res; 76(21); 6159-62. (c)2016 AACR.
In recent years, the term integrative medicine has gained acceptance in medical academia. The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine defines this term as "the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing."1 Integrative oncology has been specifically described as both a science and a philosophy that focuses on the complex health of people with cancer and proposes an array of approaches to accompany the conventional therapies of surgery, chemotherapy, molecular therapeutics, and radiotherapy to facilitate health.2 The SIO and its Medline-indexed journal ( Journal of the Society of Integrative Oncology ), founded by leading oncologists and oncology professionals from major cancer centers and organizations, promote quality research and appropriate application of useful, adjunctive complementary modalities (〈http://www.IntegrativeOnc. org〉). The SIO assembled a panel of experts in oncology and integrative medicine to evaluate the current level of evidence regarding complementary therapies in the care of cancer patients. To help health care professionals make evidence-based treatment decisions in integrative oncology, the panel made specific recommendations based on the strength of the evidence and the risks/ benefits ratio. These practice guidelines, developed by the authors and endorsed by the Executive Committee of the SIO, address principles for clinical encounters, followed by individual classes of treatment modalities. There is an essential difference between "complementary" and " alternative" therapies. "Alternative" therapies are typically promoted as a substitute for mainstream care. By definition, alternative therapies have not been scientifically proven, often have no scientific foundation, and have sometimes even been disproved. However, complementary medicine makes use of unconventional treatment modalities and approaches that are nonsurgical and nonpharmaceutical but that have known efficacy. When combined with mainstream care, these modalities can enhance effectiveness and reduce adverse symptoms. The use of complementary and alternative therapies by cancer patients is common, and given that complementary therapies can be helpful in symptom control, but the substitution of therapies with no evidence of safety and/or efficacy can delay or impede treatment, we strongly recommend that medical professionals routinely inquire as to the use of such therapies during the initial evaluation of cancer patients. The extensive use of complementary and alternative therapies can also challenge and frustrate both health care professionals and patients, leading to a gap in communication that negatively affects the patient-provider relationship. This communication gap may also arise from the patient's perception that health care professionals are indifferent to or object to the use of unconventional therapies, a perception that can lead to a loss of trust within the therapeutic bond. Health care professionals, who remain open to inquiries and aware of subtle, nonverbal messages from patients, can create an environment where patients feel free to openly discuss all choices in their care. Evidence suggests that patients supported in this manner are less likely to pursue potentially dangerous alternative therapies and are more likely to adhere to conventional, evidence-based treatment programs. We strongly recommend that qualified professionals provide guidance in an open, evidence-based, and patient-centric manner with those who use or are interested in pursuing complementary or alternative medicine so that they can approach these therapies appropriately. Patients should be informed of the conventional treatment approach, the nature of specific alternative therapies, the realistic expectations, and the potential risks and benefits. © 2009 BC Decker Inc.
Yoga has been shown to improve cancer survivors' quality of life, yet regular yoga practice is a challenge for those who are sedentary. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled study to assess feasibility and adherence of two types of yoga intervention among sedentary cancer survivors. Sedentary breast and ovarian cancer survivors were randomized to practice either restorative yoga (minimal physical exertion, Group R) or vigorous yoga (considerable physical exertion, Group V) in three 60-minute supervised sessions a week for 12 weeks, followed by 12 weeks of home practice. Accrual, adherence, and attendance rates were assessed. Of the 226 eligible patients, 175 (77%) declined to participate in the study, citing time commitment and travel as the most common barriers. Forty-two subjects consented to participate in the study. Of the 35 participants who began the intervention (20 in Group R and 15 in Group V), adherence rate (percentage remaining in the study at week 12) was 100% and 87%, respectively. Rate of adequate attendance (more than 66% of the scheduled supervised sessions) was 85% and 73%, respectively. Rate of completion of the home practice period was 85% and 77%, respectively. In this study, sedentary cancer survivors were able to adhere to a long-term, regular yoga regimen. The rate of adequate attendance was higher for restorative yoga. Future studies for sedentary patients should focus on reducing time commitment and travel requirements to improve recruitment, and on using restorative yoga as a more feasible intervention for this population.
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a serious dose-limiting side-effect without any FDA-approved treatment option. Prior reviews focus mostly on pharmacological interventions, but nonpharmaceutical interventions have also been evaluated. A Web of Science and PubMed database search to identify relevant RCTs from January 2005 to May 2015 included the terms: CIPN, cancer; and supplements, vitamin E, goshajinkigan, kampo, acetyl-L-carnitine, carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, omega-3, glutamine, or glutamate; or massage, acupuncture, mind-body practice, yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi, physical activity, or exercise. Of 1465 publications screened, 12 RCTs evaluated natural products and one evaluated electroacupuncture. Vitamin E may help prevent CIPN. L-Glutamine, goshajinkigan, and omega-3 are also promising. Acetyl-L-carnitine may worsen CIPN and alpha-lipoic acid activity is unknown. Electroacupuncture was not superior to placebo. No RCTs were published regarding other complementary therapies, although some studies mention positive incidental findings. Natural products and complementary therapies deserve further investigation, given the lack of effective CIPN interventions.