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Complementary Therapies Help Patients & Their Families Cope with Cancer


At Frederick Regional Health System (FRHS), cancer patients are benefitting not only from traditional oncology care, but also from complementary therapies such as massage, meditation, and acupuncture. These offerings will grow when the new James M. Stockman Cancer Institute opens on the hospital’s Rose Hill Campus in summer 2017.

“Mounting evidence supports that cancer patients and their families benefit from these therapies,” says Dr. Patrick Mansky, the medical director at FRHS Regional Cancer Therapy Center’s Oncology Care Consultants. “It’s becoming the state of the art when you look at all the large cancer centers in the country. It’s the preferred and optimal approach to care, and most of our patients who have gone through these approaches have been very pleased.”

FRHS has recently become a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network, a program of national cancer care leader MD Anderson Cancer Center, whose research data has confirmed the benefits of many complementary therapies to help patients cope with cancer and treatment side effects. Clinical studies continue to indicate that a variety of mind-body therapies can be used to control the cancer patient’s symptoms and side effects without toxicity and at very little expense.

Complementary therapies currently being evaluated to support conventional oncology treatment at FRHS include:

  • Exercise: Yoga and tai chi practiced under the supervision of an experienced teacher may help patients overcome fatigue associated with cancer treatment. “We know that movement, especially a mind-body approach, reduces stress and fall risks for cancer patients,” says Dr. Mansky. “There’s increasing evidence that these therapies help caregivers with their stress, too.”
  • Diet: “There’s a strong interest in nutrition and understanding what’s best to eat and what supplements to use,” says Dr. Mansky. Diets rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green, leafy ones, can increase energy and help promote digestion.
  • Acupuncture: Studies have shown that acupuncture can help with nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hot flashes, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.
  • Massage: Cancer patients sometimes experience edema, or swelling that occurs when fluids build up in parts of the body, especially the legs, ankles, and feet. Massage by a licensed therapist can help relieve swelling. Reiki, or spiritual healing by touch, may encourage emotional support and help with symptom control, too.
  • Mindfulness: According to Dr. Mansky, evidence shows that patients who practice mindfulness through meditation are in a better emotional state when going through cancer therapy and recovering from treatment.

In Summer 2017, the new James M. Stockman Cancer Institute will feature a beautifully and carefully designed environment to promote healing and relaxation, with ample space to accommodate a patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach to care.

“The new cancer center will have a whole suite on the second floor that offers patients complementary approaches to support in their treatment and beyond,” confirms Dr. Mansky. “In addition to what we offer so far, we’ll also have nutritional counseling on site.”

FRHS recommends consulting your oncologist before trying any complementary therapy. Not all therapies are recommended for every cancer patient, but on an individual basis depending on the patient’s needs and interests.

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Categories: Cancer