A prospective, randomized trial of integrative medicine for women with ovarian cancer

Patricia L. Judson, Elizabeth L Dickson, Peter A Argenta, Yin Xiong, Melissa A Geller, Linda F Carson, Rahel G Ghebre, Amy L. Jonson, Levi S Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: Despite increased use of integrative medicine in cancer therapy, little data exist on its efficacy. This prospective, randomized, pilot trial sought to evaluate the feasibility of combined modality integrative medicine (CM-IM) in women with ovarian cancer (OvCA) and evaluate its effects on quality of life (QoL), chemotherapy toxicity and immunologic profiles. Methods: Women with newly diagnosed OvCA requiring chemotherapy were offered enrollment. Those randomized to the experimental arm received hypnosis, therapeutic massage and healing touch with each cycle of chemotherapy. The control arm received chemotherapy without CM-IM. All patients completed QoL questionnaires prior to cycles 1, 3 and 6, and 6-months after chemotherapy. Immunologic profiles were measured. Statistical analysis was based on intent-to-treat. Student's t-test and Fischer's exact-test were used to determine differences. Results: Forty-three women enrolled. All women randomized to CM-IM were successfully treated. There were no statistical differences between the groups in age, stage, grade, histologic cell type, CA125 levels, or surgical cytoreductive status. There was no difference in overall QoL measurements. Re-hospitalization rates, treatment delays, anti-emetic use, and infection rates were similar. Immunologic profiles revealed no difference between arms for WBC or salivary IgA levels. Women receiving CM-IM had consistently higher levels of CD4, CD8 and NK cells, although this did not reach statistical significance. Conclusions: Prospective clinical evaluation of integrative medicine for women with gynecologic malignancy is feasible. This first, pilot study of CM-IM in gynecologic oncology demonstrated no improvement in QoL or chemotherapy toxicity. Integrative medicine-associated improvements in immunologic profiles warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-350
Number of pages5
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Randy Shaver Cancer Research Fund and by a Sime Research Fellowship in Complementary and Alternative Medicine through the Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota .


  • Healing touch
  • Integrative medicine
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prospective
  • Randomized
  • Therapeutic massage


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