The Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians is organizing a one-day seminar in naturopathic oncology that will be held just before the AANP’s conference begins at the Biltmore.
Last year OncANP’s one-day conference in Keystone that focused on breast cancer proved so successful that we thought we would give it another try this year.
This year’s OncANP pre-conference, in keeping with the overall theme of the AANP conference, will focus on the information that all primary care naturopathic physicians need to know when dealing with cancer survivors. Whether or not you choose to practice naturopathic oncology, you will be seeing cancer survivors as patients. These are a unique group of people who have different needs and concerns from your general patient population. OncANP’s goal is to provide you with the information to feel comfortable with these patients but more important to offer them the help they need.
Planning these one-day seminars is a different experience from planning larger conferences. Think of large conferences as something like a potluck dinner. All sorts of people bring interesting contributions that don’t necessarily go together. Planning these one-day conferences is more like planning the menu for a themed party. The parts fit together. We skip the "calls for abstracts" and instead work out the general topic with OncANP’s board members.
This year I had the pleasure of working with Lise Alschuler to outline, in detail, the day’s lecture topics and then invite specific speakers to cover these topics. The end result, we hope, will be a day of learning that feels well crafted and leaves you satisfied.
As time passes more and more of your patients will be members of "the cancer survivors club" and even if you think you want to specialize in other things, these people will show up in your office. Even if they are years past their initial diagnosis and treatment, you still need to view them in a different light, from a slightly different perspective.
While we design these pre-conferences to be accessible to all naturopathic doctors, they are not just beginners-only lectures. I think all of our speakers will bring a depth of experience and knowledge so that even our most experienced practitioners will gain something by attending. I am going to lay out in more detail what the day’s menu looks like in the following paragraphs.
Shani Fox, ND
, will help us understand why cancer survivorship is the focus of her practice, how to assess the emotional well being of these patients and use naturopathic principles to leverage them toward a better state of wellbeing.
The number of cancer survivors in the United States is growing each year, and it is becoming increasingly common for primary care naturopathic physicians to be treating these patients in their general practices. Yet these are not general patients; their experience with cancer puts them into a unique and special category. The unique needs of people with a previous diagnosis of cancer include both physical and emotional issues resulting from both diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Fox will review the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for survivors, and identify how to leverage naturopathic practice to support survivors’ wellbeing.
Mark Gignac, ND
, will speak about helping patients recover from conventional treatments. Conventional treatment of cancer often involves strong cytotoxic drugs and ionizing radiation. These treatments while effective in disease control and in extending intervals of disease free survival often adversely impact quality of life. Dr. Gignac’s lecture will focus on how the primary care naturopathic physician can help patients recover from the after-effects of conventional oncology treatment.
The lecture will focus on four areas of particular need. First, Dr. Gignac will outline the most commonly seen treatment sequelae. This discussion will include guidance for how to identify these after-effects. The lecture will also focus on the longer term and deeper disruptions often sustained by people after completion of conventional treatment. Long lasting and lingering fatigue is perhaps the most common symptom. Methods to restore mitochondrial function based on new theories and strategies will be discussed. Restoration of digestive function and nutrient absorption will be addressed, Dr. Gignac will also discuss the treatment-related effects on immunity and circadian rhythmicity. For each of these sequelae, Dr. Gignac will offer core components of a naturopathic support strategy.
Jen Green, ND, FABNO
, will turn the discussion to how we lower risk of cancer progression or cancer recurrence by altering the oncometabolic terrain.
In naturopathic medicine, we often speak of the terrain as fundamental in both the cause of disease and as an essential aspect in the treatment of disease. In this lecture, Dr. Green will address the fundamental aspects of the oncometabolic terrain that are important for the primary care naturopathic physician to consider and address in order to maximize the longevity and quality of survivorship. These fundamental aspects include decreasing systemic inflammation, optimizing immune function, addressing metabolic syndrome and reducing the angiogenic threshold.
Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
, will speak about diet, exercise and living the life. Diet, exercise and lifestyle are fundamental aspects of treatment for most naturopathic physicians in primary practice. Understanding their role in maximizing the health of cancer survivors is of primary importance as a part of a comprehensive survivorship strategy. Dr. Alschuler will review the general dietary goals for cancer survivors. These include weight management and the effect this has on progression free and overall survival. The various dietary strategies popular today among cancer patients, including Paleo, Mediterranean, Ketogenic Caloric restriction and fasting, and Detoxification, will be reviewed in the context of current scientific data and patient-specific indications. Exercise may be the most important strategy for cancer survivors for maintaining and improving quality of life and increasing overall survival. The question is no longer whether exercise is helpful, rather how much and of what type. In addition, the separate, but related effects of sedentarism and how to change this tendency in modern life will be addressed.
Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO
, will speak about the use of IV-therapies for both recovery and survival in cancer patients. The use of intravenous therapies in the treatment of cancer has become a mainstay in the clinical practices of many naturopathic physicians who specialize in the treatment of cancer. What type of IV therapies should be considered, how to administer these therapies and when these therapies may be most efficacious for cancer survivors in a primary care setting will be the topic of Dr. Kaczor’s lecture. Dr. Kaczor will focus on IV ascorbic acid but will also include other nutritional therapies. These therapies will be discussed for their roles in repletion, recovery and to lessen risk of recurrence.
Neil McKinney, ND
, will review the material medica commonly used post treatment and long term in cancer survivors. There are many dietary supplement ingredients commonly used in the milieu of cancer treatment, particularly post-treatment. An essential component of survivorship care is the use of these dietary supplements. This lecture will provide an evidence-informed discussion of cancer survivor-specific indications, contraindications and clinical data. Several of the supplements to be discussed include curcumin, green tea, probiotics, vitamin D, mushrooms, fiber, sulforaphane, berberine, L-glutamine and others. Dr. McKinney will also include successful strategies from his clinical practice.
Yours truly, that is me, Jacob Schor
, will do a brief stand up bit covering several prescription drugs that are used for things other than cancer but that are now considered of potential benefit for cancer. I will review these drugs, and the current arguments for and against their utilization by cancer patients. Drugs to be covered will include aspirin, metformin, statins, beta-blockers, and any important additions that appear in the medical literature between the time of this writing and the conference. This lecture will be pure pharmacy hours.
will speak a second time trying to instill the sense of vigilance against recurrence that cancer survivors and their caregivers have to have. Once diagnosed with cancer a patient’s life is forever changed. Both the survivor and their doctors, including their naturopathic primary care provider, must be forever on the lookout for recurrence or disease progression. Dr. Kaczor will review the risk of recurrence associated with the most common types of cancer. She will also review the various signs and symptoms that may indicate a recurrence. She will further discuss various biomarkers, lab tests and physical examinations that can be used to monitor for recurrence. The role of the primary care naturopathic physician in ordering appropriate work-ups will be covered along with the timing of referral to the patient’s oncologist.
We’ll conclude the day with a panel discussion. Some naturopathic physicians express a hesitancy to work with cancer patients yet those of us who do find that providing ongoing care to cancer survivors to be deeply gratifying. All of our speakers have chosen to focus their practices on oncology and they do so for a number of reasons. Each doctor will communicate their inspiration for making the choice they have. The purpose of this discussion will be to inspire the conference attendees to devote more time and effort to helping this patient population. It is our belief that many in our profession can be of help to these patients improving both the quality and length of their lives.
I’ve watched many conferences come together over the years. This particular conference promises to be the best we’ve ever cooked up.