Introduction to Integrative Medicine at MSK

VIDEO | 02:45

Meet our Integrative Medicine specialists and learn about how they can help people with cancer.

Show transcript


(Instructor in the background.) Long legs, straight down.

Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, Chief, Integrative Medicine Service: Cancer really brings about a lot of emotional, spiritual, and physical challenges that, unfortunately, conventional medications don't always address fully. By establishing the Integrative Medicine Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering has really led the way to bring the world of complementary medicine together with conventional care.

Donna Wilson, RN: It's a holistic approach. We're not bringing it in and just treating, you know, your cancer. We're treating your whole body.

Rocco Caputo, Touch Therapist: We use non-invasive symptom management to help people get through their treatments and feel more like themselves.

Dr. Mao: Some of the integrative therapies we offer at MSK are acupuncture, massage, mind-body treatments, such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi. As well as in the inpatient setting, we have a very robust music therapy program and dance program and martial arts program for both adults and children.

Rocco: If a patient comes in with pain, we could offer them Swedish massage or a neuromuscular therapy session. If they come in with anxiety or nausea, we can use acupressure or reiki. Every treatment is customized for the patient.

Donna: The most important thing I can suggest to all patients with a cancer diagnosis is really simply, keep moving. By staying active, they maintain muscle strength. They will decrease their level of fatigue. They'll have more flexibility of their joints. The main goal is to improve someone's physical performance, so they can get back to a normal lifestyle.

Dr. Mao: The integrative medicine service at MSK has led many of the studies that begin to build a strong evidence base for many of these therapies. As a physician-acupuncturist, I see the benefit of acupuncture every day in my clinical care. I can really help patients to address those cancer-related side effects. As a result, they not only benefit from the clinical outcomes related to their cancer treatment, but they have a good quality of life.

Rocco: The mission of MSK isn't just to cure cancer. It's to help the patients to thrive. And integrative medicine does that.

Donna: What I love about my job is to see the change in patients when they come to me. I see them smiling, stronger, happy to tell me that they can get out of a chair without pushing off the arms. So, the exercise does make a huge difference.

Dr. Mao: I truly believe MSK will continue to lead integrative medicine for years to come. The work we have done is visionary, and it set a new standard for how do we take care of people with cancer.