Holistic cancer care
Karen Hebert and Helen Cook argue that providing holistic care can make patients' experience of cancer less painful
- By: Karen Hebert, Helen Cook
Treating cancer is still based on three options-surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.1 However, these may simply treat the disease, rather than the person. The oncology community is increasingly recognising the benefits to be gained from holistic cancer care, and more oncology centres now offer some form of complementary therapy, such as aromatherapy. Medical students and our patients stand to gain so much by learning more about available holistic therapies and how they can be used.
In the past, holistic medicine would be studied by anthropologists and laughed off by cynics. However, evidence now supports a holistic approach, particularly with regards to patients with cancer.2 Psychoneuroimmunology examines the interaction between the psyche and the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. Research has already shown that natural killer cell levels are related to your social support level and general outlook on life.3 This is particularly interesting because natural killer cells are involved in surveillance