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Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment Hardcover – April 21, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy may treat cancer but can also necessitate huge changes in lifestyle and body image and predispose the patient to other diseases, recurrence, and death. Block (medical director, Block Ctr. for Integrative Cancer Treatment) lays out a comprehensive complementary-therapy program designed to enhance conventional treatments, and he provides advice that will better a patient's life and improve chances of a full cure. Block stresses that patients should not abandon traditional medicine and should consult their health-care team before adding less traditional treatments. He details an anticancer diet, with specific recommendations for foods and supplements, as well as exercise plans and spiritual maintenance. Methods of boosting one's immune response while providing a less friendly "bioterrain" for cancer cells are suggested, as are techniques to counteract the ill effects, e.g., nausea and fatigue, of traditional cancer therapies. This dense book may overwhelm some readers, but considering the prevalence of cancer, it's sure to be a popular title.—Janet M. Schneider, James A. Haley Veterans Hosp., Tampa
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Life Over Cancer is the compilation of Dr. Block's three decades of research and development of his optimal model of integrative cancer treatment. As Chief of Surgical Oncology from a major medical institution, I have sent many patients to the Block Center. They experienced less treatment toxicity, improved treatment response, better quality of life, and improved outcomes. In my opinion, Dr. Block's clinic is unique and what I consider to be the top integrative oncology center in the US. It is where I would go if I was ever diagnosed with cancer."— N. Joseph Espat, M.D. Professor and Chief, Surgical Oncology Roger Williams Medical Center

Life Over Cancer is a must- read for anyone combating this disease. It provides genuine hope, as well as the evidence, rationale, and instructions in how to live a healthier, fuller life with cancer, while providing a broader array of treatment options that improve quality of life.”—Nick Vogelzang, M.D., Director, Nevada Cancer Institute Professor of Medicine, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Las Vegas

“Here is cancer care as it should be: person-centered, integrated, individualized and science-based. If you or your loved ones have been touched by cancer, or if you care for those with cancer, read this book.”—Wayne B. Jonas, M.D., President and CEO, Samueli Institute Director (1995-1999), Office of Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health

“Keith Block is one of the great pioneers of integrative oncology. This important book is essential reading for patients and health professionals alike. Block's approach is indicative of much of the future of this critically important field of medicine."—Michael Lerner, Ph.D., President, Commonwealth Cofounder, Commonweal Cancer Help Program

Life Over Cancer provides the reader with an accessible and comprehensive program that combines the best of conventional cancer therapy with effective complementary interventions. It is this 'whole person' approach to patient care that Dr. Block brought to the University of Illinois Integrative Medical Education program which he established in the mid-nineties. His dedication and efforts have transformed the school's medical education curriculum, and inspired future physicians to view integrative medicine as a truly significant component of health care.”—L. J. Sandlow, M.D. Senior Associate Dean for Academic & Educational Affairs Professor and Head, Department of Medical Education University of Illinois College of Medicine

“In Life Over Cancer, Dr. Block demonstrates his huge depth of knowledge of the comprehensive management of patients with cancer and illustrates the wealth of opportunities and choices available to them. This is a book about optimism, soundly grounded in science."—Stephen M. Sagar, M.D. President, Society for Integrative Oncology Associate Professor Oncology & Medicine, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario

Life Over Cancer provides countless strategies to enable the patient to regain some of the lost sense of control that a diagnosis often carries, empowering them to be a true partner in their fight for life. Dr. Block's counsel and guidance have assisted countless medical professionals hoping to provide their own patients with a comprehensive integrative approach to care.” —Donald I. Abrams, M.D., Chief of Hematology-Oncology San Francisco General Hospital Prof. Clinical Medicine, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, UCSF

“How refreshing to come across this thoughtful book.…With the boldness of a carpe diem, this evidence-based integrative approach should serve as a wake-up call for oncologists to overcome their obsession with treating cancer as an isolated target and to pay attention to the cancer patient whose own faculties need to be harnessed as agencies to win this war.”—Azra Raza, M.D. Director of the Myelodysplatic Syndrome Center St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center, New York, NY Former Chief Hematology-Oncology University of Massachusetts

“Keith Block is the foremost integrative oncologist in North America. In Life Over Cancer he shares his incomparable depth of knowledge and experience with us and presents a comprehensive, scientific, and practical program for helping people with cancer effectively fight the disease.”—Leo Galland, M.D., Author, Power Healing Director, The Foundation for Integrated Medicine

Life Over Cancer is a training manual for cancer patients, their families, cancer nurses, oncology pharmacists and oncologists. [It] provides patients with insight and a series of concrete steps to help them live better and longer, despite a cancer diagnosis. —William JM Hrushesky, M.D., Senior Clinician Investigator, Medical Oncology Professor, Schools of Public Health and Medicine, University of South Carolina , WJB Dorn VA Medical Center, Columbia SC

“Patients who have taken the Life Over Cancer sojourn have generated an impressive track record. While we have much to comprehend about the inner workings of cancer it is reassuring to know that personalized state-of-the-art care is within reach.—Debu Tripathy, M.D. Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine Former Director of the Komen / UT Southwestern Breast Cancer Research Program President and CEO, Physicians Education Resource

“Without doubt, Life Over Cancer can be singled out as the most authoritative book in integrative cancer medicine available for the cancer patient. I highly recommend it for patients and caregivers.”—Jacob Shoham, M.D., PhD, Medical Oncology Professor Emeritus of Life Sciences Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

Life Over Cancer is the program every cancer patient deserves in order to have the best chance for recovery and restoration of health.”—Andrew Weil, M.D.

“Keith Block is a pioneer and leader in integrative cancer care and one of its premier practitioners. This clear, meticulously documented, practical book is a lifeline for anyone who has cancer. It should be required reading for all oncologists.”—James S. Gordon, M.D., former chair, White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy; author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression

“To this day, the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment remains the best and the only truly comprehensive integrative cancer center in the country. This generous book is the exact blueprint for that program and the recipe for its success: hope and science.”—Mark Renneker, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Unviersity of California, San Francisco, Medical School

"Dr. Keith Block shares his decades of research and clinical practice, and presents a powerful, practical, and accessible approach for patients, loved ones, caregivers, and health professionals.  This book beautifully reveals the depth of his dedication and commitment to helping people heal."—Jeremy Geffen, M.D., medical oncologist and author of The Journey Through Cancer: Healing and Transforming the Whole Person
“Keith Block, M.D. is the most prominent integrative cancer specialist in the United States. His new book, Life Over Cancer, is the manifesto of the movement for a kinder and more effective form of managing this terrible disease.”—Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D., Director, The Moss Reports

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553801147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553801149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having had breast cancer twice and having read virtually every book out there on the subject, I have to say that this book sets the gold standard. For starters it is well wrtten, well organized and well researched which are qualities you rarely find in this type of book. Beyond this, it contains an incredible amount of immediately useful information while maintaining the recognititon that one size does not fit all-a practice that you often find in the medical community. In my own journey through this disease, I have observed that many clinics are attempting to incorporate integrative strategies, and even though they are moving in the right direction, they are missing the whole picture. It is so blatantly clear that Dr. Block has put together all the pieces in a truly comprehensive approach. I was so impressed with this book, I bought a copy for every doctor that I have interacted with in the past few years.
If you or a family member are dealing with cancer- pay attention- this book is the one you will refer to over and over again.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a mixed blessing. Consequently, I have to categorize it as helpful but not authoritative. In fact, some of the recommendations, based on factual errors, should not be followed. I will identify those, in a moment.

On the positive side, the author explains the why and how of going past the allopathic paradigm of mainstream American cancer treatment. The mainstream focus is on reducing the tumor size and then "getting the cancer" through radiation or chemo. This part is more like the tripod of a stool, and Dr. Block explains why.

In many cases, mainstream cancer treatment is essentially assisted suicide (my words, not Dr. Block's). Dr. Block provides some examples proving this, but there are thousands of such examples in the medical literature as well. Dr. Block's approach is to actually engage in health care, not something most medical care providers are willing or able to do. Unfortunately, his formal training is in medical care and he has some errors in his understanding of health care.

Before I explain his errors, let me put things in the proper perspective. I am appalled by what I see in shopping carts at the grocery store. It's as if people are obsessed with getting sick. Only in rare cases do I see a cart (other than my own) that doesn't contain contaminated "food" not fit for human consumption. And here I am talking only about such major contaminants as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.

Give this background, even if you accept the dietary recommendations Dr. Block, even with their flaws, it is nearly certain that your diet will improve dramatically and health benefits will flow from that single decision. His advice is mostly very, very good. But it does have some errors.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Block is a pioneer of integrative oncology, with about three decades of experience in cancer research and clinical care for thousands of cancer patients. For the past three years, I've followed his work with great interest, and I knew a while back that he was working on this book, so I awaited the book with eager anticipation. I bought the book the day it came out and have just finished reading it in its entirety.

Though the book has a limitation which I'll get to in a moment, it's still overall an outstanding resource. In these 500+ pages, Dr. Block explains the philosophy behind his integrative treatment approach, and he also provides abundant details on how he implements this approach for patients on an individualized basis, addressing the goals of both extending survival and improving quality of life. Because (a) cancer is a huge social problem, (b) an integrative approach makes sense, is supported by evidence, and is (hopefully) the wave of the future, and (c) Dr. Block's credentials are as authoritative as one can find, this book will hopefully have a large influence and thereby offer a major contribution to human welfare.

The limitation of this book is that it simultaneously addresses both patients/caregivers and physicians/researchers, but these are two audiences with very different technical backgrounds. I think two seperate books for these audiences would have been preferable, though this obviously would have required more work on Dr. Block's part.

For patients/caregivers, I think that a more streamlined book would have been preferable, since the current book has the potential to be overwhelming (even with the "quick maps").
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a visionary book, that explains the way cancer should be viewed and treated. As a cancer survivor, I have been frustrated and disappointed in oncologists and cancer specialists who view me as a disease, or as a survivor of a disease, instead of a whole person with judgement and feeling. In addition, I have found that most oncologists spend more time focused on the medical cures (chemotherapy, radiation) instead of the areas I can focus on - what I eat, how I live, what I think and how I feel.

This book answers those questions for me, and even if I am a survivor, its information is critically important if I am to continue being a survivor. It doesn't talk down to me, and its examples and anecdotes feel "real" and believable. I'm anxious to put my reading into action in terms of mindset and diet.

All this said, I do have one small criticism. I called the Block Clinic repeatedly over the last week to make an appointment, and could not connect to a live person. I am sure the staff is very busy since the book is a very recent publication, but I did expect better follow through. Interestingly enough, the book highights the need for personal care and attention, but when I called the clinic, all I got was an answering machine. I may be overly critical, but that seems ironic. Beyond this, the book was rational and solid.

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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