integrative gynecologic oncologyIntegrative Gynecologic Oncology is a sub specialty of Integrative Oncology and of Gynecologic Oncology. It is so specialized that there are few practitioners focused on this area. If you consider who is safe and qualified, the list gets smaller. In most centers that have an Integrative Medicine program, generally this area of interest is under the broader auspices of Integrative Oncology, and they likely interface with colleagues in a Department or Division of Gynecologic Oncology. This arrangement is fine, as long as there is a structured team focus and the consultations are not disjointed.

As of 2017 there are a relative handful of Gynecologic Oncologists who are concerned with facets of Integrative and Complementary Medicine. This means that they spend time researching and/or practicing in areas like exercise in gynecologic cancer, nutritional support in cancer, complementary supportive care, botanical ethno-medicine and the like. When you look at how many have received formal training or are board certified in these areas beyond Gynecologic Oncology the list gets very small.

Naturopathic Gynecologic Oncology Specialists

There are also Naturopathic physicians (as opposed to Allopathic physicians who are the mainstream MD and DO doctors) who attend school at the very few specialized naturopathic medical schools and are awarded an ND or NMD. Some of these physicians go on to get some experience in oncology, designate themselves as “Naturopathic Oncologists” and, if they choose to get certified by the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians become a diplomate or fellow of The American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO). This was established in 2006. So it is young in development and the training is variable. Having said that, ND or NMD doctors who are FABNO certified are often members of the cancer care team at many centers, notably the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which also provides additional training to achieve FABNO certification. There are a very select few who go beyond this to specialize in women’s health and/or gynecologic cancer care. This is a VERY young field and the training is very variable, so be advised to keep your mainstream gynecologic oncologist involved.

Integrative Gynecologic Oncology Certification

If you search online you will find MANY physicians who claim to be specialists in Integrative Oncology. The problem is that many have not had any formal training in either cancer or integrative medicine. It is for this reason that for MD and DO physicians the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) was created and additional transition to the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) is taking place. This covers the certification for integrative and holistic medicine, but most of such physicians are not qualified to treat cancer patients, never mind gynecologic cancer patients specifically. As the only gynecologic oncology physician board certified in Women’s Health (ObGyn), Gynecologic Oncology and Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM and ABOIM), I hope others will follow suit OR become more interested in participating as part of a team devoted to patient centered Integrative and Holistic Gynecologic Oncology. As noted at the beginning of this page there are already leaders in the field who are addressing pressing issues of nutritional, exercise and other supportive care in women’s cancer survivorship and hopefully this trend continues.

I was honored to have spoken at the 2014 Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Winter meeting about Nutritional Support in Cancer.    Here is a video from the 2012 meeting featuring other expert Gyn Oncologist colleagues whose practice includes acupuncture, nutrition and natural integrative approaches.

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