About Us

Katie smilingThe mission of the British Society for Integrative Oncology is to promote the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine to improve the lives of people affected by cancer in the UK.

Our goal is that evidence-based, comprehensive, integrative healthcare should be available and delivered seamlessly to all those whose lives are affected by cancer.

Organisation and constitution

The British Society for Integrative Oncology (BSIO) is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary organisation founded in 2012 for people interested in learning more about the application of integrative oncology for people affected by cancer. Its aims have been aligned with those of the Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) in the USA. Because the healthcare systems of the UK and the USA are very different, the pathway to achieving our aims may be very different.

The BSIO was formed following a conference to launch the concept in May 2012, where delegates brain-stormed about the future shape of such organisation. A Working Group with co-opted Officers was formed to set up the Association, based on the feedback from the meeting. Preliminary communications, financial and organisational structures were in place by autumn 2012.

Yes to Life LogoBSIO is indebted to the vision of Robin Daly the founder and chairman of Yes to Life who saw the need for an organisation such as BSIO in the UK, and organised a meeting in May 2012 to launch the concept.

Committee Members

Robin Daly
Founder and Chairman of the Yes to Life charity. Representative of the patient’s view.

Dr Olivia Donnelly, Macmillan Consultant Clinical Psychologist, CPsychol, DClinPsy, BSc (hons), RAAPS
Clinical health psychology (surgical directorate) and Head of Outlook (specialist psychological support for people with a changed or unusual appearance); North Bristol NHS Trust.

Dr Damien Downing MBBS, MSB. New Medicine Group
President: British Society for Ecological Medicine. Environmental illness, detox therapy, nutrition, allergies, genomics.

Helen Nothard. BSc, Post Graduate Dip, Chartered Fellow (CIPD), Reiki Master
BSIO accounts and general business support. Represents the view of family and friends. Has a complementary approach to health and well-being.

Dr Marie Polley, BSc, PhD, PGCHE PhD Reiki Master
Department of Life Sciences Faculty of Science and Technology University of Westminster. Head of Patient Outcomes in Health research group.

Katie Ruane BA, BSc, MRN. Naturopathic Physician
Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia diagnosed aged 22. Patient representative.

Prof Robert Thomas, MRCP (UK), MD, FRCR
Consultant Oncologist Primrose Oncology Unit, Bedford and Addenbrooke’s, Hospitals. Professor of Biological and Exercise Science Coventry University, Teacher Cambridge University, visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire.

Dr Xandria Williams PhD, MSc, DIC, ARCS, ND, MRN. ‘CanSurvive Resource Centre’
Biochemist, Orthomolecular Nutritionist, Naturopath, Psychotherapist. Focus: complementary, biochemical, scientific and non-toxic approaches to cancer.

Catherine Zollman  MRCP, MRCGP
Medical Director Penny Brohn UK, GP Bristol, Macmillan GP working with Cancer Steering Group at Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups, Honorary Lecturer University of Bristol.

The role of the BSIO

The BSIO provides a convenient forum for presentation, discussion and peer review of evidence-based research and treatment modalities in the discipline known as integrative medicine. The BSIO focuses on those complementary and supportive approaches that have sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy to be integrated into care alongside conventional therapies, or where research looks promising.

Barbara Hepworth, Prelude IIThe BSIO ultimately aims to provide a balanced view of the evidence to enable people affected by cancer in the UK and their oncologists to have an informed dialogue about safe, effective complementary options that are unlikely to interact with orthodox treatment, and to support patient choice and decision-making. In order to achieve this aim, the BSIO will provide a focal point:

  • To develop and maintain a network of professionals and organisations in the field of integrative oncology in the UK
  • To provide education and conferences to promote dialogue between professions, enhance understanding of integrative oncology, share best practice and promote clarity about safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness
  • To provide links to reliable evidence-based resources providing high quality information on integrative oncology
  • To maintain international links, especially with the SIO in the USA which inspired the foundation of the BSIO.

What is integrated health care?

Integrative oncology means the use of complementary interventions as supportive care alongside conventional cancer treatments, which can increase quality of life, improve resilience, minimise the side effects of treatment and improve outcomes.

Because a constantly growing number of people affected by cancer throughout the world turn to both alternative and complementary therapies as part of their cancer treatment plan, it is essential that oncologists have ready access to information about research and existing treatment programs. There is a wide range of complementary and alternative therapies available today and both the benefits and risks (or contra-indications) of these approaches should be readily accessible to healthcare practitioners.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US (NCCAM) defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. “Complementary medicine” (as defined by NCCAM) refers to use of complementary together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain. “Alternative medicine” refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. “Integrative medicine” combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness.