Using Integrative Therapies to Help Manage Cancer-Related Pain: An Expert Q&A

July 20, 2023
Brielle Gregory Collins, ASCO staff

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) published a joint guideline on using integrative therapies to manage pain in people with cancer in September 2022. Integrative therapies, also called complementary therapies, can be used in addition to standard cancer treatment to help reduce side effects of treatment, including pain.

In this podcast, Richard T. Lee, MD, and Jun Mao, MD, MSCE, who both served on the expert panel for this guideline, discuss what people with cancer should know about the role of integrative therapies in managing cancer-related pain, including the different types of therapies recommended in the joint guideline.

  • What is a clinical practice guideline, and how does it help guide cancer care? [2:45]

  • What is integrative medicine? [3:30]

  • Why is it important to study integrative therapies for cancer care? [4:51]

  • Why did ASCO and SIO come together to produce this joint guideline on integrative medicine for pain management? [5:54]

  • What is acupuncture, and what types of cancer-related pain has it been shown to help? [7:09]

  • What are “levels of evidence,” and how are they used when making guideline recommendations? [9:28]

  • What are reflexology and acupressure, and what types of pain have these techniques been shown to help? [10:51]

  • What is hypnosis, and when can it be applied to people with cancer? [12:27]

  • When can massage be helpful for managing cancer-related pain? [13:44]

  • How can yoga help with cancer-related pain? [15:20]

  • What are guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation, and when can these 2 techniques be used in combination for managing pain? [17:50]

  • When has music therapy been shown to help with pain? [19:20]

  • What are the key takeaways for people with cancer from this ASCO-SIO joint guideline about using integrative therapies for cancer-related pain? [22:13]

  • Where can people with cancer go to learn more about integrative therapies for cancer-related pain? [22:55]

Dr. Lee is a clinical professor in the Departments of Supportive Care Medicine and Medical Oncology at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and serves as the medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program. Dr. Lee is also the 2023 Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Palliative Care. Dr. Mao is chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and holds the Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair in Integrative Medicine at the institution.

Disclosure information for Dr. Lee can be found in his individual biography linked to above. View Dr. Mao’s disclosures.

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