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Integrative Medicine: Helping Cancer Patients Cope

What is Integrative Medicine?

integrative medicine
Delia Chiaramonte, MD, Gilchrist Integrative Medicine Program Manager

Integrative Medicine is a specialty that focuses on the care of the whole person, not just the disease. It uses a wide variety of treatments, including medication, dietary supplements, acupuncture, massage, relaxation exercises and more. Integrative practitioners make use of the connection between the mind and the body, and they can help with unpleasant symptoms, support coping and create a personalized wellness plan.

Is Integrative Medicine based on science?

Absolutely. There are many studies that show the benefits of an integrative approach to care. For example, studies show that acupuncture helps nausea caused by chemotherapy, massage helps decrease pain, meditation improves anxiety and guided imagery helps people recover from surgery.

How does Integrative Medicine help patients with cancer?

People who are facing cancer and cancer treatment may experience pain, nausea, trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression and difficulty coping. A personalized treatment plan designed by an integrative physician can help patients to effectively manage these symptoms and significantly improve their quality of life.

What kind of practitioners provide these treatments and what is their training?

Integrative physicians attend medical school and residency just like other physicians, and they then pursue further training in Integrative Medicine. Acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors complete formal training programs and maintain a professional license. Training for other practitioners such as those who provide mind-body therapies, yoga therapy and therapeutic art is varied. Many integrative practitioners practice wellness behaviors themselves.

Who can receive Integrative Medicine at GBMC?

Any patient who is receiving cancer treatment at GBMC can have an Integrative Medicine consultation. Referrals are made by GBMC’s medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists.

Do you coordinate treatment with patients’ oncologists?

Definitely. I communicate frequently with the cancer specialists at GBMC. We discuss patients with the goal of improving their quality of life. If there is ever a question about the safety of an integrative treatment plan alongside chemotherapy, radiation or cancer surgery, the oncologists get the final say. I only recommend supplements that have been approved by the oncologists.

How many visits should I expect to receive?

That’s totally up to you. Some people just come once for an integrative treatment plan, while others may have a visit every week or two until their symptoms are under control.

How do I know if an consultation is right for me?

If you are receiving cancer treatment at GBMC and are experiencing stress, anxiety, pain, trouble sleeping, fatigue or are just feeling overwhelmed, you might consider requesting an Integrative Medicine consultation.

How do I find out more or make an appointment?

To find out more, visit gilchristcares.org/integrativemedicine. To make an appointment, call 443-849-6255.

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