Complementary Medicine Therapy for Cancer Patients

Three years ago the Integrative Medicine Unit opened its doors at Rabin Medical Center's Davidoff Cancer Center, offering cancer patients complementary medicine therapies which can be combined with their conventional medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

The unit is headed by Opher Caspi, MD, PhD, a board certified internist who completed six years of combined training with the internationally renowned Andrew Weil, MD at the University of Arizona, and was also trained in China. This is the first such unit in Israel, and it was modeled after similar programs operating successfully in leading American cancer centers such as Memorial Sloan Kettering, M.D. Anderson, and Dana Farber, under guidance from reputable sources such as the National Cancer Institute at the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

Integrative medicine focuses on wellness on biological, psychological, social, and spiritual levels while integrating the safest and most cost-effective therapies of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine to help both the patient and the family deal with disease.

Since the inauguration of the Integrative Medicine Unit there have been more than 22,500 visits and 17,500 treatments for approximately 1,700 cancer patients. These have included 9,000 acupuncture sessions supplemented by the use of Chinese herbs, 3,300 shiatsu treatments, 1,600 reflexology treatments, 2,500 mind-body therapies including hypnosis and interactive guided imagery, 1,000 neuropathy consultations and 1,000 group therapies such as Yoga, Pilates, Tai-Chi, and Feldenkrais, and these numbers are growing every day.

In addition, the unit is involved in research studies in the emerging field of integrative oncology both locally and internationally, in post-graduate medical education and in national health policy in Israel concerning the regulation of complementary and alternative medicine.

Dr. Opher Caspi stated: "We are very excited that for three years we have provided our cancer patients complementary medicine treatments to prevent and minimize side effects, manage symptoms, enhance immunity and quality of life, and hope to help many more cancer patients in their journey toward health and well-being."

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