About the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO)
Integrative oncology is a field of medicine combining the best complementary and alternative therapies, as proven effective by rigorous scientific research, with standard cancer care. The CHOICE Study is an example of integrative oncology research, as it investigates how well two complementary therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy and acupuncture) relieve post-treatment insomnia in cancer patients. At the forefront of integrative oncology is the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), of which Dr. Jun Mao has been nominated president for two years. Since the SIO supports research like the CHOICE Study, we would like to introduce our readers to the important work of this organization.
The SIO is a non-profit, professional organization promoting best practices in integrative oncology. Founded in 2003, the SIO’s mission is “to advance evidence-based, comprehensive, integrative healthcare to improve the lives of people affected by cancer”. Comprised of practitioners from many disciplines, the SIO includes members who are oncologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, complementary therapy practitioners, naturopathic doctors, herbalists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. These experts in their fields collaborate to review present and past research in order to formulate guidelines for providers and patients to use. Only therapies undergoing the most rigorous scientific research process and showing evidence of efficacy are recommended by the SIO.
After extensive review of available research, the SIO has written and published professional guidelines recommending certain integrative therapies for use in both lung and breast cancer patients. Referenced in MedLine and posted on the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website, the SIO guidelines offer useful information to both providers and patients as to which therapies are best for treating which symptoms.
Some examples of effective integrative therapies include ancient medical systems like acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; mind-body modalities such as yoga and progressive relaxation; touch therapies like massage; and biological therapies such as dietary supplements and herbs. Curious readers can visit the SIO website (www.integrativeonc.org) for more information about SIO’s recommendations.
The SIO website contains much patient-friendly information, such as the “Guide to Credible Internet Info”, and “Herb of the Month” posts. Patients can read about the most recent research findings, or click on the link to the clinical trial database to search for trials by subject or location. For cancer patients and survivors, this wealth of reliable information on complementary and alternative therapies takes much of the guesswork out of answering the question, “Could any of these therapies relieve my symptoms?”. The SIO guidelines are written so patients and providers can decide together which integrative treatments may be the best fit for the patient’s needs.
The SIO is leading the “bench to bedside” movement, envisioning integrative therapies as part of future standard cancer care, and accessible to all patients with all cancers. Dr. Mao’s years as president of the organization will help grow the SIO, and research like the CHOICE Study will help shape future therapies offered during and after cancer treatment.