British Society for Integrative Oncology Annual Conference 2023

Attended by Practice Governance Manager, Sharon Ling

Sharon is currently updating the BANT PP handbook guidance on working in the specialist area of cancer nutrition and has an expert team reviewing the additional education and qualifications recommended for NT’s. The BSIO conference provided a chance to see first-hand how integrated oncology care is evolving and how NT’s fit into the professional landscape.

Read Sharon’s account here:


As a registered BANT RNTP, this conference provided a hugely valuable insight into the various forms of professional support that make up packages of care for patients with cancer and those patients being supported with post cancer care, including the impact that diet can have as one aspect of these.

The development of Integrative Oncology can be considered as a natural evolution and needed contribution to caring for the whole person with cancer from the time of diagnosis and beyond.

A picture was provided of how services using various models have been developed around the world to meet patient demand and address the growing population of people affected by cancer to enable them not just to survive, but also to thrive with and beyond cancer.

A fascinating insight was given of how many cancer patients resort to herbal approaches, most of these chosen from informal recommendations. Popular options were considered, and which plants have supporting evidence in cancer risk reduction and treatment support, including options for symptom relief.

Two clinicians working at the leading edge of cancer treatment and research addressed aspects of integrative care. One surgeon and microbiome researcher discussed engineering the microbiome for improved surgical outcomes in cancer. His talk explored how the microbiome determines clinical outcomes during this treatment, and explored how diet and non-medical therapies can be leveraged to reduce peri-operative complications. A clinical oncologist discussed aspects of integrative care for patients receiving targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

By definition, “Integrative Oncology” includes the use of a diverse range of healthcare practices. One workshop explored the challenges and potential benefits of bringing practitioners who have very different perspectives and professional backgrounds, theoretical frameworks, philosophies of health, and even healthcare languages, to work together in an integrated way. Some of the ways that inter-professional barriers and communication difficulties can be reduced were explored and practical strategies offered to improve co-operation and co-ordinated patient care.

The adoption of the IO (integrative oncology) approach and aligned multidisciplinary working throughout NHS, private and charity sectors must be well supported by education that delivers practical up-to-date information and supports service design and delivery. How BSIO plans to support postgraduate education in this field was presented, including outline plans for an online PG Dip/MSc in integrative cancer care.

Ketogenic diet therapy was also discussed as well as the therapeutic potential associated with the myriad of biochemical changes that the ketogenic fuel-switch offers. Theoretical and practical aspects of keto and other low carb dietary approaches were covered, from the perspectives of an oncologist and nutrition professionals.

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