How Can Integrative Oncology Help Those With Cancer?

By From The Experts

What is Integrative Oncology?

Integrative medicine in the field of oncology uses a multi-disciplinary, evidence-based approach to cancer care.  Integrative oncology often includes a collaborative effort from multiple practitioners all of whom have a specialty in oncology care.  The practitioners may include but are not limited to oncology trained physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, registered dieticians, estheticians, counselors, reflexologists, physical fitness instructors, mind-body therapists and aromatherapists.  They work with the traditional medical oncology team of oncologists, physician assistants and nurses to ensure the patient’s quality of life is supported and concerns are addressed.

The field of integrative oncology has grown in recent years.  With the support of cancer care clinics and hospitals across the United States and around the world, growing research has shown that patients benefit from a patient-centered, team approach to cancer care.

What are different types of integrative oncology practitioners and what do they treat?

Physical Therapy

  • Strength and range of motion
  • Balance and gait training
  • Scar and tissue tightness and restriction
  • Pain, endurance, balance issues and fatigue
  • Axillary web syndrome (cording)
  • Pre-operative mobility assessment
  • Individualized post-operative exercise programs

Acupuncture

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Stress, Anxiety, Depression
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation & Diarrhea
  • Cognitive function/mental clarity
  • Scar Tissue

Massage

  • Pain
  • Anxiety, stress
  • Nausea
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue

Nutrition

  • Malnutrition
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues:
    • Acid Reflux, Nausea, Vomiting, Constipation, Diarrhea

Aromatherapy

  • Digestion
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Cognitive function
  • Emotional imbalances

Esthetics

  • Inflammation and redness
  • Itching and irritation
  • Dry skin
  • Supports integrity of the skin barrier

When should I receive integrative oncology services?

It is perfectly safe to receive integrative oncology services at any point of your cancer journey. From the start at the diagnosis, when patients navigate treatment whether that be chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or immunotherapy and into remission.  Patients can build a team that suits them in order to feel supported at any point of the cancer journey.

How do I find a practitioner who has advanced training in working with oncology patients?

It is important to find practitioners with advanced training in oncology care.  All disciplines previously discussed, have advanced training and certifications that practitioners will study and complete in order to safely and effectively help cancer patients.

How to find an integrative oncology practitioner near you:

Society for Integrative Oncology has an international database of practitioners who are members:  https://integrativeonc.org/public-directory

The Society for Integrative Oncology also has a wealth of information for patients and caregivers: https://integrativeonc.org/

Here in Austin, TX there are multiple integrative oncology practitioners.

Can integrative oncology help with menopausal symptoms?

Preliminary research has shown acupuncture is effective at treating hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause.  In one study, when compared to pharmaceutical intervention, acupuncture showed lasting positive outcomes even when treatment sessions ended. 1  Additionally, meditation shows promising results for lowering intensity of hot flashes. 2

Does health insurance cover integrative oncology services?

In recent years, health insurance has started to cover various integrative oncology services. Physical therapy, acupuncture, massage and nutrition therapy may be covered based on an individual’s insurance plan and the practitioner’s decision whether to take insurance.  Many times, if practitioners do not take insurance, they will provide a detailed receipt or ‘superbill’ for you to submit to your insurance company.  It is also possible to use a flex spending account or health service account when utilizing these services. Be sure to ask your practitioner for more information! 

Cancer Rehab & Integrative Medicine

Cancer Rehab & Integrative Medicine (CRIM) is in Austin, TX.  CRIM offers a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer care.  Their services include massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, manual lymph drainage, aromatherapy, esthetics, mind-body therapy, nutrition, coaching as well as free exercise classes and education seminars through their sister nonprofit organization, Moving Beyond Cancer Collaborative 501(C)3 status.  They work in a collaborative effort with the patient’s oncology team to ensure side effects and symptoms are addressed and quality of life remains strong.  Their intention is to move individuals through and beyond cancer in a manner that is dignified, compassionate and empowering.

For more information regarding health care services and practitioners, please visit:

Cancer Rehab & Integrative Medicine www.cancerrehabaustin.com

Moving Beyond Cancer Collaborative https://www.mbccollaborative.org/

CRIM COVID-19 Protocols: Cancer Rehab & Integrative Medicine is committed to the safety of our patients and practitioners.  For this reason, we have a series of protocols that have been implemented in our clinic. We have strict screening prior to patient arrival, masks are mandated in the clinic, only one patient is allowed in at a time and rooms are properly disinfected in between patients.  Please refer to our website for the full list of measures we are taking and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

References:

  1. Mao JJ, Bowman MA, Xie SX, et al: Electroacupuncture versus gabapentin for hot flashes among breast cancer survivors: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Oncol33:3615-3620, 2015.
  2. Carmody, James Francis et al. “Mindfulness training for coping with hot flashes: results of a randomized trial.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 18,6 (2011): 611-20. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e318204a05c

If you or someone you know is facing breast cancer, BCRC is here to help.  Please visit our website or call our helpline at 512-524-2560.

Consider making a donation to BCRC and give the gift that makes a real difference for the women in Central Texas facing breast cancer right NOW. Visit bcrc.org to learn more about how we can help, or click here if you wish to give back today.


Mari Galle DACM, Lac
Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist
512-522-6518
mari@cancerrehabaustin.com
License number: TX 01719

Mari Galle, DACM, LAc is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, licensed acupuncturist and oncology acupuncturist at Cancer Rehab & Integrative Medicine.  She earned her Doctorate of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition and Spanish.  Mari is passionate about a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to treating cancer patients using integrative oncology and evidence-based medicine.  She treats patients from the beginning of diagnosis, throughout treatment and into remission.  Her role in a cancer care team is to prevent and manage side effects and symptoms associated with the diagnosis and treatment.  Mari is the co-founder and board member of the Moving Beyond Cancer Collaborative nonprofit and is a board member for Regarding Cancer nonprofit in Austin, TX.

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