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Why Bring Naturopathic Oncology to Flagstaff?

Picture in your mind what you think of as a typical person diagnosed with cancer. Did you think of someone who is barely holding on to life, skin and bones, and a pale shadow of that individual’s former self? 

We’d like to change that image. 

What it means to be diagnosed with cancer in 2019 is in many ways vastly different from what it meant only a few decades ago. The treatments, options and outcomes for various types of cancer continue to improve; but at the same time, the focus of many physicians (and people with cancer) is simply killing the cancer at whatever cost. 

Naturopathic oncology takes aim at the cancer but keeps the focus of care fixed firmly on the individual. With several treatment options that are directly toxic to cancer, and abundant options to support the patient while undergoing conventional treatment, naturopathic oncology continues to gain support from patients and medical professionals alike – even locally in Flagstaff. 

You might wonder: What does naturopathic oncology entail? Does working with a naturopathic oncologist mean that I’m giving up on my conventional cancer care? Is naturopathic oncology a legitimate field of expertise? Let’s briefly answer those questions now. 

What does naturopathic oncology entail?  

Naturopathic oncology refers to the application of the art and science of naturopathic medicine to the field of cancer care and treatment. That means utilizing the principles at the foundation of naturopathic medicine in connection with current and supported medical care. It may not seem like much of a difference, but the attitude and approach your medical team takes to your care may affect everything from the options that are offered to you, how comfortable you feel with those options, and even the eventual outcomes themselves.   

You can learn more about the principles of naturopathic medicine by doing a quick search online, but here are the six principles listed briefly: vis medicatrix naturae (the healing power of nature), primum non nocere (first do no harm), praevenire (prevention), tolle causum (treat the cause), tolle totum (treat the whole person), and docere (doctor as teacher). 

Does working with a naturopathic oncologist mean that I’m giving up on my conventional cancer care?    

No. Although naturopathic oncology is a distinct system of medicine and offers options to treat some kinds of cancer independently, most often, naturopathic oncologists participate with other types of oncologists such as medical, surgical and radiation oncologists on a team to best serve the needs of the person with cancer. 

Naturopathic oncologists excel at supporting the overall health of a person with cancer. Why is that important? Simply put, many cancer treatments attack cancer aggressively, and often with toxicity. Furthermore, many people receiving such treatments are already in a weakened state and hence the toxicity can be amplified. When this occurs, their treatment plans may need to be dose-reduced, changed to a less toxic (and potentially less efficacious) regimen, or altogether suspended, which of course limits the cancer–killing capacity of the conventional plan. By incorporating a naturopathic oncologist into your care team, you’re broadening the options and expertise that is available to you; never a bad option when every choice counts. 

Is naturopathic oncology a legitimate field of expertise?   

Absolutely. While specialization inside the field of naturopathic medicine is still in its infancy compared to others in the medical field, there is no doubt that specialization enhances the quality of patient care. 

To that end, the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) was established in 2004. The OncANP is a membership organization while the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (ABNO), awards the credentials of Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO) to naturopathic physicians who undergo years of rigorous training in naturopathic oncology, meet strict eligibility criteria, as well as pass a board examination. Currently, there are 120 naturopathic oncologists practicing throughout North America, and that number continues to grow. 

By supporting patients, expanding treatment options and, when necessary, interfacing with established physicians in the medical, radiation and surgical fields, our naturopathic oncologists continue to elevate the options for cancer treatment in Northern Arizona.