The Society for Integrative Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have released new practice guidelines on the use of integrative approaches for managing cancer-related pain. Integrative oncology employs healing practices from different traditions along with conventional cancer treatment.

An expert panel developed a set of evidence-based recommendations, including acupuncture for patients experiencing joint pain related to breast cancer treatment or peripheral neuropathy due to chemotherapy. Acupressure, reflexology, yoga, massage therapy, hypnosis, music therapy and guided imagery may be offered in specific circumstances. Other complementary approaches are potentially relevant to cancer care but need more research.

Many comprehensive cancer centers offer integrative therapies, but these can be harder to come by in community hospitals and other care settings. “We are hoping that by showing the growing evidence that is out there, health care systems will start hiring these kinds of practitioners and insurance systems will start covering these treatments,” says Eduardo Bruera, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center.