As a nurse working in oncology in Redmond WA, you play a crucial role in supporting patients through their cancer journey. Integrative oncology in Redmond WA is a field that blends traditional cancer treatments with complementary therapies and self-care practices. This guide offers insights into integrative oncology, helping you provide a holistic approach to cancer care.

Let’s explore what integrative oncology is, its key components, and how you can use it in your nursing practice to enhance patient care.

What Is Integrative Oncology?

Integrative oncology is all about providing patient-centered cancer care. It combines conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation with complementary therapies such as massage and mindfulness practices. This approach aims to improve the quality of life for patients and support them through their treatment journey. It focuses on evidence-based practices, meaning the therapies recommended are backed by scientific research.

The Society for Integrative Oncology defines integrative oncology as “a patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments.” In simpler terms, it combines the best of both worlds—traditional treatments and complementary practices—to optimize health and clinical outcomes.

Key Components of Integrative Oncology

To understand integrative oncology better, let’s break down its key components:

  • Patient-Centered Care: The focus is on the individual, not just the disease. As an oncology nurse, you know that every patient has unique needs, preferences, and values. Integrative oncology empowers patients to be active participants in their care, giving them a sense of control during a challenging time.
  • Evidence-Informed Practices: While some complementary therapies might seem appealing, they need to be based on solid evidence. This means that treatments should be proven effective and safe. For instance, before recommending a new therapy, you should assess its potential interactions with conventional treatments and weigh its risks and benefits.
  • Integrative Approaches: Integrative oncology involves a coordinated approach. It integrates conventional treatments, complementary therapies, and self-care practices into a single, well-thought-out plan. This ensures that each component works together without causing harm or compromising effectiveness.

Putting Integrative Oncology into Practice

How can you, as a nurse, use integrative oncology in your daily practice? Let’s discuss some practical examples to guide you.

Suppose you have a patient struggling with anxiety during their cancer treatment. As a nurse, you know that stress can impact recovery and overall well-being. You could suggest a complementary therapy like guided relaxation or nature walks, both of which have shown benefits for reducing anxiety. By offering these options, you’re giving your patient tools to manage their stress alongside their conventional treatment.

In another example, let’s say a patient is dealing with fatigue from chemotherapy. They’ve expressed interest in non-drug approaches. After reviewing evidence, you find that qigong, a gentle movement-based therapy, can help with fatigue and is generally safe. You discuss the potential benefits and risks with the patient and, if they’re interested, refer them to a suitable qigong instructor. This type of personalized care is at the heart of integrative oncology.

Nurses Taking Care of Themselves

While caring for your patients, it’s important to take care of yourself, too. Nursing in oncology can be emotionally and physically demanding. Integrative oncology can offer you tools for your well-being. Consider practices like mindfulness, yoga, or regular exercise to reduce stress and maintain your own health. Taking time for self-care can make you a more effective caregiver and help you prevent burnout.

Integrative Oncology: It’s Not Alternative Medicine

One thing to clarify with patients is that integrative oncology is not the same as alternative medicine. Integrative approaches complement conventional treatments; they don’t replace them. This is an important distinction because some patients may misunderstand the terms and believe that alternative therapies can replace standard cancer care. It’s essential to communicate that integrative oncology uses complementary therapies to enhance conventional treatment, not to substitute it.


Integrative oncology offers a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to cancer care. As a nurse, you have the opportunity to guide patients through this journey, offering them both conventional treatments and complementary therapies. By focusing on evidence-informed practices, you can ensure that the care provided is both effective and safe.

If you’re interested in learning more about integrative oncology or want to explore specific therapies, resources like CancerChoices and professional organizations such as the Society for Integrative Oncology are excellent places to start. Remember, your role as a nurse in integrative oncology is invaluable—you can make a significant difference in the lives of your patients by embracing this holistic approach to care.

So, how do you think you might incorporate integrative oncology into your practice? What challenges do you anticipate, and what kind of support do you need? Let’s continue the conversation to ensure you have the tools and knowledge you need to provide the best care for your patients.