Welcome to the Integrative Oncology Program
In this section, you will find some helpful information that explains what Integrative Programs are and what we are doing to help improve and expand this discipline.
Over the next several years I believe we will be seeing Integrative Medicine becoming the standard of care in most Medical settings. We have dramatically advanced our knowledge in Medicine, Science, and Technology to a point where we are now able to help people recover from conditions that were considered incurable in the recent past. The challenge is that the pendulum has swung towards the medical system becoming somewhat mechanical and placing too much trust in technology, frequently forgetting the powerful wisdom of the human being. Fortunately, medicine is getting back to remembering that the body has natural healing tendencies, to supporting patients’ intuitions and respecting their beliefs.
Customizing therapies is extremely important. Every person is different in many aspects, from their chemical and hormonal composition to physiology, immunity, energy, beliefs and the environment where they have lived. As physicians, we need to remember to treat every person differently, listening to their whole story, their body, and their wisdom. This training needs to start in Medical School; therefore many of us participate actively in Medical Student Training Programs. Nowadays we are faced with the challenge of having to choose among different therapeutic options, something that we thought impossible even a few years ago. When we go over the treatment options with patients, we need to keep in mind their uniqueness and support their intuition towards which therapy they feel could help them the most.
The medicines we use and the recommendations for therapy that we prescribe are changing constantly. What we advise one day, can drastically change the following. On the other hand, the power of the Human Spirit never changes. Similarly, effective Integrative approaches should not be forgotten. We can learn about new techniques, but even the most ancient practices continue to help patients and should not be abandoned.
Integrative Approaches are very diverse. Having a list or a menu for patients to choose from is quite helpful. They can experience different techniques and see how they feel with each one of them. How do we know what can help us? At the moment it is by experience alone, by the way, we feel and by listening to our inner voice, our intuition. Listening to our bodies is very important, as our mind can be very tricky in times of confusion. Our body, our very basic instincts can prove to be an invaluable guide. Continued research in this area will be most valuable.
I believe that in the near future we will be integrating the best in Medicine, Science and Technology, with the best in Nature, and Healing Arts. We will be supporting people’s beliefs, intentions, intuition, and reminding patients about our inner healing tendencies and the power of the Human Spirit to promote well being, even when there is no known medical cure.
What are we doing at the San Diego Cancer Research Institute?
As medical oncologists, we work daily with people who live with cancer. We have the opportunity of seeing many patients do better than expected; many enjoy a good quality of life despite dealing with life-threatening cancers. How can we interpret this? There are many possible explanations, but it would be helpful to investigate this scientifically and come up with answers that can be shared with everyone in the medical community.
At our non-profit, the San Diego Cancer Research Institute, we are looking into finding answers to many of these questions. We have Integrative Programs available to patients because we firmly believe in their effectiveness. These approaches not only make people feel better and improve their quality of life but can also impact their response to medical therapy and very likely improve their prognosis. We need to demonstrate this in order to spread the benefits of Integrative Medicine throughout the community.
The healing environment plays a crucial role in helping patients get well. An “Optimal Healing Environment” is paramount although it may be somewhat difficult to apply in certain medical settings. I firmly believe we would see a significant impact on patients’ outcomes if we transformed the typical medical office/hospital
Our Team plans to demonstrate the positive effect an Optimal Healing Environment has on patients’ outcomes. We would also record what effect different Healing Arts have on patients undergoing therapy for cancer. These would include mind-body techniques, massage, yoga, meditation, herbal therapy, nutrition, oriental medicine procedures such as acupuncture, etc. We are collaborating with other cancer centers and programs that are interested in researching these same issues.
Ultimately our goal is to help individual patients by coming up with optimal therapeutic methodologies and to increase the level of awareness and compassion throughout our medical system and society.
Daniel Vicario, M.D.