Director’s Blog Jan 2013

Welcome to our new website!
Thank you for visiting – please take a tour around and make yourself at home. The TBCC Integrative Oncology Program isn’t really anything new, we are just putting together all our programs, education and research that fall into this category under one umbrella. The idea is to make information easy to find for people living with cancer, friends and family as well as cancer care professionals.

Since this is the first blog I’m writing, perhaps I will give you a bit of history. I’ve been employed at the TBCC since 1997 in various capacities (professionally I am a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Behavioral Medicine), and now I hold the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology (since 2007) through the University of Calgary. One of the research streams under the Chair is Integrative Oncology. Simply put, Integrative Oncology is the provision of whole-person cancer care, which includes standard conventional treatments when needed, supplemented by appropriate evidence-based complementary therapies. Our goal is to provide full Integrative Oncology services to patients, which would include individual counseling and treatment planning, provision of services (or referral to practitioners when appropriate), recommendations for natural health products, education and clinical trials.

In moving towards this goal, we have been doing research on complementary therapies and offering programs in this area for about 15 years. One of the most popular programs is called Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) – it stems from the well-known Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) of Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues. We adapted it here specifically for people living with cancer, and have tested it rigorously and even written a book with the program curriculum (LINK). If you want some details, there is a list of publications and links to the full research papers on the site (LINK).

The YogaTHRIVE program of the Culos-Reed Health and Wellness Lab has also been around for a long time. It’s offered at the TBCC, the U of C and through various community venues (LINK). They also have other fitness-related programs you may want to check out (LINK).

Recently, we have been expanding our focus to learn more about Natural Health Products (NHPs) – you can see we like acronyms – because they are the most commonly used complementary therapies by people with cancer. This includes various vitamins, herbs, supplements, nutrients and functional foods. To do this we did a literature review to better understand what the evidence tells us about these things, then developed educational seminars that are offered for patients monthly at the TBCC.

Just this fall we also surveyed about 500 patients about their CT use and educational needs, and 100 or so health care providers about their CT knowledge and practices. We will use this data to further develop educational programs, materials and policies for both patients and health care providers over the next year.

These are exciting times for Integrative Oncology and I plan to keep you updated as new developments arise – thanks for visiting!

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