Health Concerns: Combining Modern Research & Ancient Wisdom

Integrative Oncology: Controversies and Challenges with Donald Abrams, MD

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Cancer patients often seek interventions that they can integrate themselves into their treatment program to help increase their sense of control in dealing with what is often a devastating diagnosis. Most conventional oncologists are firmly grounded in the paradigm of evidence-based medicine, understandably in view of the nature of the disease they treat and the toxicity of the treatment interventions utilized. Hence the advice is usually “eat whatever you want and don’t take any supplements during treatment.” Integrative oncology supports the empowerment of the patient by providing evidence-informed recommendations on diet, physical activity, supplements and stress reduction and suggesting co-management with a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. This distance course reviews controversies and challenges in integrative oncology.

Course Objectives

  • Connecting with a patient to affect clinical outcomes
  • To activate the body’s innate healing response
  • How and when to making a referral to an integrative oncologist
  • To reduce inflammation through the use of integrative oncology
  • How to close patient visit with three closing questions


Donald I. Abrams, M.D. is a general oncologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, an integrative oncologist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Abrams conducted numerous clinical trials investigating conventional as well as complementary therapies in patients with HIV including therapeutic touch, Traditional Chinese Medicine interventions, medicinal mushrooms, medical marijuana and distant healing. His interest in botanical therapies led him to pursue a two-year Fellowship in the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona which he completed in December 2004. His particular passion in the field involves nutrition and cancer.

Since completing his Fellowship, Dr. Abrams has been providing Integrative Medicine consultation to people living with and beyond cancer at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He was Chief of Hematology-Oncology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General from 2003-2017. He co-edited an Oxford University Press textbook in Integrative Oncology with Andrew Weil, M.D.. He is a member of the NCI PDQ CAM Editorial Board. Dr. Abrams was President of the Society of Integrative Oncology in 2010.

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