beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Grading Complementary Therapies

Posted 11/13/2014

Posted in

  The best estimate is that somewhere between 70% and 80% of all people diagnosed with cancer use, at least for a time, some kind of complementary/alternative/holistic/CAM therapy. It is also a safe guess that many don't mention this to their doctors nor are there easily available ways to acquire information about their potential value. You surely can't judge a nutritional supplement, for example, by the reviews and quotes from "satisfied" customers. As the saying goes, if you do that, I have a bridge to sell you.

  The Society for Integrative Oncology has just released an excellent score card. Certainly this does not answer all the questions, but it is a way to begin to think about possibilities and how/if you want to spend your time and energy and money on any of these treatments. I am referring you here to an article from about this, but it is relevant to all kinds of cancer.

  Here is an excerpt and then a link to read more. If you are using or considering any CAM, I strongly suggest that you read this.

Society for Integrative Oncology Issues Guidelines on Complementary Therapies

The Society for Integrative Oncology is a nonprofit multidisciplinary organization of professionals dedicated to studying and facilitating the cancer treatment and recovery process through the use of integrative medicine.
To create the guidelines, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, with colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and other institutions in the United States and Canada, analyzed more than 200 studies done between 1990 and 2013 to see which integrative treatments appear to be most effective and safe for patients. They evaluated more than 80 different therapies.
Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, who also is a member of the Professional Advisory Board, helped write the guidelines.
The guidelines give each complementary therapy a letter grade:
“A” means the therapy is recommended because there is strong evidence that it offers benefits.
“B” means the therapy is recommended because evidence shows that it offers benefits, but probably not as much benefit as therapies with an “A” grade.
“C” means the therapy should be recommended selectively to certain people based on patient preferences and the doctor’s judgment; the evidence shows that the therapy offers a small benefit.
“D” means the therapy is not recommended because the evidence shows it offers no benefits; doctors should
discourage patients from using the therapy.
“H” means the therapy is not recommended because research shows that it does more harm than good; doctors should discourage patients from using the therapy.
“I” means there isn’t enough research to make a recommendation on the therapy.


Add your comment