Integrative oncology “integrates” quackery with oncology. Its practitioners, however, frequently delude themselves that their specialty is science-based. A recent review article by two integrative oncologists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center expresses that delusion perfectly.
“Integrative oncology” involves “integrating” pseudoscience, mysticism, and quackery with science-based oncology and co-opting science-based lifestyle modalities as “alternative” in order to provide cover for the quackery. Unfortunately, my alma mater, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is running a course to indoctrinate 100 health care professionals in the ways of “integrative oncology.” The Trojan horse of “lifestyle interventions” and “nonpharmacologic treatments for pain” is at the gates. The quackery will leap out as soon as it’s in the fortress.
In 2014, the Society for Integrative Oncology first published clinical guidelines for the care of breast cancer patients. Not surprisingly, SIO advocated “integrating” dubious therapies with oncology. Last week, the most influential oncology society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), endorsed a 2017 update to the SIO guidelines, thus endorsing the “integration” of quackery with oncology and paving the way for insurance coverage. The advance of quackademic medicine in oncology continues apace.
Last week, I commented on the inability of the Society for Integrative Oncology to define what integrative oncology actually is. This week, I note the proliferation of the quackery of integrative oncology in places that should be rigorously science-based, namely NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers.
Earlier this month, the Society for Integrative Oncology published an article attempting to define what “integrative oncology” is. The definition, when it isn’t totally vague, ignores the pseudoscience at the heart of integrative oncology and medicine.