Ting Bao, MD, DABMA, MS
The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) hosted its 16th International Conference in New York City, October 19-21, 2019, in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). The conference theme, “Advancing the Science and Art of Integrative Oncology,” focused on deepening the understanding of the role that integrative therapies play in cancer care and on promoting the art of humanistic care, which recognizes the values, preferences, and rights of patients with cancer and their families.
The conference brought together integrative oncology researchers, practitioners, students, patient advocates, funding agency representatives, and health policy analysts. It surpassed multiple previous records, from attendee volume (more than 500); to the number of oral and poster presentations (150); to international representation (128), spanning 29 countries from around the world, including two new additions, Spain and Lithuania.
The conference format included a half day of preconference workshops, the New Investigator forum, followed by plenaries, panel discussions, and workshops. There were four keynote lectures:
From the Power of Exercise to Circadian Rhythms
Lee W. Jones, PhD
Dawn L. Hershman, MD, MS, FASCO
Dr. Jones unveiled the power of exercise as medicine, and many attendees stated that they gained a new perspective on how exercise therapy should be treated like any other pharmaceutical prescription, with an intended dosage and regimen. This viewpoint gave attendees new confidence and understanding on how to counsel patients to utilize exercise for optimizing health.
Attendees were also inspired by Dr. Hershman’s talk highlighting the opportunities in the growing field of integrative oncology and the challenges yet to be addressed moving forward. There was not a dry eye in the room after Dr. Von Roenn’s deeply moving talk, and attendees commented that it will better them as caretakers of patients with cancer. Following Dr. Young’s talk, attendees stated that he shared a fascinating account of his journey to unlock the workings of circadian rhythms, and that his talk gave them a much deeper appreciation of the scientific process.
The interactive preconference workshops, relevant to both patients and caregivers, attracted clinicians and researchers as well as patient advocates from across the country and abroad. Topic titles included “Sleeping Well After Cancer,” “Exploring Integrative Approaches to Support Cognitive Health During Cancer Treatment and Survival,” and “How the Creative Arts Therapies Support the Mind, Body, and Spirit of Pediatric Patients and Their Families.” Scholarships to attend the workshop on sleeping well after cancer were partially funded by a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Engagement Award. This award enabled more than a dozen patient advocates to travel and participate in the workshop as well as to attend the entire conference.
Jamie Von Roenn, MD, FASCO
Michael W. Young, PhD
The eight main workshops addressed a diverse range of topics, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory processes for herbal supplements; an exploratory panel discussion on advocacy for integrative oncology science; integrative oncology training for health-care providers; discussions on how to decrease burnout among cancer care providers; research highlights in art therapy, mind-body therapies, and nutraceuticals; updates from the area of applied mind-body medicine; intermittent fasting for patients with cancer in a clinical practice; and a discussion on finding the “sweet spot” between false hope and hopelessness.
Another highlight of the conference was the addition of an international breakfast and presentations that included speakers from Italy, Spain, Israel and the Middle East, Australia, China, South Korea, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Sweden. They discussed various aspects of integrative oncology in their respective countries. Participants also presented and engaged in discussions at the Integrative Oncology Global Track Workshops, which included Chinese herbal medicine clinical research, dietary supplements, acupuncture, symptom management, and the role of communication in palliative care.
The Best of SIO session featured presentations including a randomized placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture to prevent radiation-induced xerostomia (Lorenzo Cohen, PhD); a discussion of aerobic and resistance exercise for sarcopenia assessed by body mass index–adjusted appendicular lean mass in breast cancer survivors (Christina M. Dieli-Conwright, PhD, MPH); compound cantharis capsule to improve disease-free survival in patients with stage 3 colorectal cancer (Jiabin Zheng, MD); acupuncture for persistent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms in survivors of solid tumors (Ting Bao, MD); and complementary medicine use and cancer screening behavior among U.S. adults (Holger Cramer, PhD).
Integrative Oncology is guest edited by Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair in Integrative Medicine and Chief of Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
A special part of the conference was a reception jointly hosted by SIO and MSK to celebrate the 20th anniversary of MSK’s Integrative Medicine Service. It included remarks by Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, Chief of the MSK Integrative Medicine Service; Ting Bao, MD, DABMA, MS, Director, Integrative Breast Oncology at MSK and SIO President-Elect; the current SIO President, Lynda Balneaves, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba; Cynthia McCollum, Senior Vice President at MSK; and Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, MD, whose generous support made the reception possible.
In closing, as we celebrate 20 years of advancements in the art and science of integrative oncology, plans are underway for the 2020 conference to be held October 16–18 in Baltimore, Maryland, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University. It will be focused on “The Science of Living Well With Cancer.” ■
Dr. Mao is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair in Integrative Medicine and Chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York. Dr. Bao is Director of Integrative Breast Oncology at the Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
DISCLOSURE: Dr. Mao has received institutional research funding from Tibet Cheezheng Tibetan Medicine and Zhongke Health International. Dr. Ting has served as a consultant or advisor to Eisai.