Dana-Farber Cancer Institute opens Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies

November 27, 2000

Boston---Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has officially opened its new Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies. In addition to conducting clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of complementary therapies, physicians and researchers will create an array of clinical, educational and research programs to increase patient and medical staff knowledge of these widely-used, yet little-studied therapies.

"The Zakim Center seeks to provide patients with complementary therapies to improve their quality of life while receiving conventional treatments," said David S. Rosenthal, M.D., medical director of the Center. "Simultaneously, the Center will provide clinical researchers the opportunity to study the safety and effectiveness of these programs. We hope the Center will both improve the care of cancer patients and advance the scientific understanding of complementary medicine."

The Center--named after Leonard P. Zakim, former executive director of the New England Anti-Defamation League--will offer only those clinical services that are safe and effective in enhancing the physical, emotional, and psychological health of people living with cancer. These services include acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, mind/body interventions (guided imagery, meditation, relaxation response), music therapy, Reiki, therapeutic touch and yoga.

As a 'center without walls,' patients of Dana-Farber's collaboration with Brigham & Women's Hospital or Children's Hospital can access these services.

A multidisciplinary staff of oncologists, nurses, psychosocial staff, researchers, biostatisticians and dieticians will direct the Center's activities through clinical, research and education committees. Working together, these committees will design and implement clinical trials, create models for greater integration of care directed at quality of life issues while patients undergo conventional cancer treatment, and develop clinical and patient educational programs.

Through monthly complementary therapy lectures, professional education seminars, and providing evidenced based information to patients and staff, the center seeks to increase education and communication among patients and their physician regarding the benefits of complementary therapies.

"In addition to the services offered by the Center, we know many patients will seek additional therapies such as herbal and vitamin supplements," said Rosenthal. "It is important that we have a certain level of knowledge of these approaches, and that we create a relationship of trust and understanding with patients to ensure open communication about any other therapeutics they may use outside the clinic."

To ensure proper coordination of patient care and enhance doctor-patient communication, Dana-Farber has established a system that automatically informs a patient's primary oncologist of any services the patient requests from the Integrated Therapy Center. Consent forms for requested services are signed by both patient and physician to avoid any unwanted side effects from combining various treatments.

Rosenthal said that in addition to studying these therapies, administrators and clinicians will also examine, 'from a big picture perspective,' the most effective methods of integrating this approach to care into a major cancer center.

"Some major cancer centers have initiated these programs outside their clinic setting," he said. "We're initiating our program directly in the clinic. It's an approach that I believe will be more effective over time in integrating comprehensive cancer care."

The Center was named for Dana-Farber supporter Lenny Zakim, who died last December after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Through dogged determination, Zakim laid the groundwork for a program at Dana-Farber that would combine conventional cancer treatment with a variety of complementary therapies and study their effects on the health and well being of patients.
Initial funding for the center was provided through philanthropic gifts given at two fundraisers held in Zakim's name. It is expected that on-going funding for the center will come from grant submissions to various sources, such as the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complement and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and from continued support of private donors.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (http://www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), a designated comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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