Integrative Therapies offer new approach to Cancer treatment

A number of Cancer centers in the U.S. are using what is called "Integrative Medicine" - treatments like acupuncture and other unconventional treatment that are not typically seen at a hospital, as they use holistic approaches to help patients overcome the side effects of Cancer treatment.

"People seem to think needles hurt, but they really don't," said Glenn Jones, who is undergoing Pancreatic Cancer treatment at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition to his bi-weekly Chemo treatment, Jones is also getting acupuncture. "I tell people I've been hurt worse a lot of times. I hurt myself worse than that shaving."

Jones said he has received acupuncture treatment six or seven times since he began treatment.

"I place the needles on generally the hands, the arms, the legs, the feet and I use the ears a lot because they're very affective for a variety of treatments," said Patricia Emslie, who is an acupuncturist.

According to Jones, the acupuncture provides relief from from some of the symptoms that are brought on by the Chemo treatments. Jones said it has helped with hot flashes, nausea, and pain.

"It helps right now, the main thing I'm having is what's called Neuropathy and it's due to the Chemotherapy and I really have no feeling in my feet," said Jones. "The end of your fingers feel cold all of the time to me, and it gets to where it's hard to pick up things, button your shirt, stuff like that. The acupuncture does help."

Jones is one of many patients that are now using Integrative Treatment. The type of care that is now being used alongside traditional treatment came about, thanks to the James M Cox Foundation Center for Prevention and Integrative Oncology.

"What we focus on is strategies to help people with lifestyle decisions, which means diet, excercise and managing stress, which we focus a lot on," said Dr. Santosh Rao, a Medical & Integrative Oncologist.

Besides acupuncture, Yoga and massage are also offered.

"You're dealing with a very specific patient population," said Dr. Rao. "There are Breast Cancer survivors who have had surgery and have limitations. Older patients who are doing yoga sometimes for the first time. You want to be gentle. You want to make sure you're with somebody who's experienced, who knows from a cancer standpoint what's safe and what's not safe"

Other therapies are also offered, such as a Holistic Tobacco Recovery Program.

Integrative Therapies historically have not been a part of prescribed treatments, but with increasing patient demand, Rao is hoping Integrative Therapies will continue to grow, so patients like Jones can get the relief they need.

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