Health Innovations

Holistic Care for Cancer: University of Cincinnati Cancer Wellness Clinic

Jun. 21, 2022

At the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, patients are not only receiving novel, leading-edge treatments to treat their cancers more effectively, but they also have access to the region’s only comprehensive cancer wellness clinic.

Integrative services and evidence-based therapies are provided to help educate, promote healthy lifestyles and manage treatment-related side effects.

The Cancer Center Wellness Clinic supports cancer patients from the time of diagnosis, through treatments and into remission, including services like oncology-specific primary care, massage therapy, yoga, exercise classes, acupuncture, nutrition services, survivorship programs and many, many more. 

“When patients are first diagnosed with cancer, they’re often presented at a tumor board that brings together surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to come up with the best treatment plan,” Melissa Erickson, MD, medical director of the Cancer Survivorship and Supportive Services Program at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center said. “We do a similar thing here [at the Wellness Clinic], but after cancer treatment.”

Before, During and After: Holistic Care for Cancer Patients

The collaborative approach to cancer care before, during and especially after treatment is an important differentiator of an academic health system like the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, which has combined the efforts of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, UC Health and Cincinnati Children’s to provide an even higher level of holistic, patient-centered care.

“The University of Cincinnati Cancer Wellness Clinic includes a variety of experts focusing on what patients can control,” Mladen Golubic, MD, PhD, medical director for UC Health Integrative Medicine said. “It’s very empowering. There is an abundance of data that shows the benefits of these treatments.”

The American Cancer Society Journal has proven that the importance of expanding treatment to include the promotion of overall long-term health for cancer patients is part of delivering truly quality care, resulting in favorable outcomes for cancer survivors.

Treating the Person Beyond the Cancer

Clinicians at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center understand that despite receiving the most effective and personalized treatments, patients still may experience a wide variety of unwanted and unexpected side effects—ranging anywhere from anxiety and pain to fatigue and difficulties eating. To combat these, the integrative medicine specialists often prescribe complementary therapies like acupuncture, meditation, music therapy and/or yoga and tai chi, amongst other integrative treatments, depending on their symptoms.

Practices like music therapy or yoga have been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), through recommendations from the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO). The treatments have been recommended for many different possible cancer side effects, including anxiety and stress, depression and mood disorders, nausea and vomiting, and have been shown to improve overall quality of life.

“We have a variety of modalities with the goal to alleviate suffering, to reduce the symptoms of cancer care and to enhance patients’ overall wellness,” Dr. Golublic explained. “Focusing on what patients can control gives them the tools, so they are not just passive recipients of our modern, twenty-first-century medical technology—they are active participants in their care.”

Not only are these services for patients actively seeking treatment for cancer at the Cancer Center, but cancer survivors and those in remission have access to these same services too, as well as a plethora of survivorship programs.

“Our job at the [University of Cincinnati] Cancer Center is to really provide hope to these patients, that no—you don’t have to deal with these side effects related to treatment,” Dr. Erickson said. “There are evidence-based treatments that we can offer to help bring you back to the quality of life you were used to before cancer.”

To learn more about the differences of the first of its kind in the region, contact the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center at 513-585-UCCC.