“Innovating Integrative Oncology: New Science, New Solutions” was the title of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) Eighth International Conference. Topics ranged from molecular biology to mitigation of treatment toxicity to mind-body medicine.
A total of 505 people attended the conference, which was jointly sponsored by the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. This represented a 50% increase over the previous year. In the multidisciplinary mix were 100 medical students who were provided scholarships to attend, 105 physicians, 33 nurses, 11 acupuncturists, 5 social workers, 2 dietitians, and 249 others.
“I am particularly thrilled about the 100 medical students who are here,” NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, stated in his keynote addresses. “You are the future, and as you are finding out at this meeting, the future has never been more exciting than it is right now for advances and understanding in how to prevent and treat cancer. And certainly the integrative approach that this meeting focuses on is a critical part of that future.”
New SIO President Kara Kelly, MD, said that plans for the upcoming year include efforts “to really broaden our outreach” and to get members more involved. “We want to develop strategic alliances with a broad range of different constituencies.” Dr. Kelly is Medical Director of the Integrative Therapies Program for Children with Cancer at the Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Columbia University in New York. “Especially for myself, as an oncologist, I would really love to see us tap more into the conventional oncology world, both in the community as well as in the academic institutions,” she said.
In an interview with The ASCO Post, Barrie R. Cassileth, PhD, founding President of the SIO and Chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said, “From my perspective, the major priorities of the organization now have to be to grow in two separate areas.” First, SIO needs to expand in geographic scope, getting representatives from more countries to attend the international conference. But the more important priority, she said, is to have more oncologists and oncology nurses actively involved in the organization.
The concept of integrative oncology continues to gain recognition and acceptance in the oncology community. “Here is the proof of the pudding,” Dr. Cassileth said. “There is virtually no major cancer conference in the world, including ASCO’s Annual Meeting, that does not have some integrative medicine or integrative oncology involved.” ■
Disclosure: Drs. Collins, Kelly, and Cassileth reported no potential conflicts of interest.