What was your talk about?
Hello, my name is Dr Ashwin Mehta and I’m the Medical Director for Integrative Medicine at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County, South Florida. My presentation today was on living beyond breast cancer – integrative updates on how to apply non-pharmacologic methods and integrative modalities in order to improve quality of life and outcomes in the survivorship period.
So we’re very fortunate to have a comprehensive integrative program at Memorial that includes a team of nutritionists, mind-body medicine trained psychologists, exercise physiologists, acupuncture practitioners, yoga therapists, who all come together to apply these non-pharmacologic and lifestyle-based modalities in a very science-informed and evidence-based way to improve quality of life for all of our patients who are both undergoing active treatment as well as in the survivorship period.
Oftentimes what we find is that there is this grey area where the science ends and the marketing begins. We really want to adhere to a science-informed and evidence-based approach so when our patients come in and they tell us that they are experimenting with different herbs or vitamins or supplements, the nice thing about an integrative program is that we can guide them to what really is in the science and make sure that they feel empowered and encouraged to really practise those things that we know are going to improve their outcomes – good quality sleep, adequate hydration, nutritional practices that include a more plant-based anti-inflammatory nutritional approach as well as exercise and using movement as medicine. When you combine these with mind-body medicine techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and creative visualisation, we really find that patients do extremely well. We’re very proud to be starting an academic program as well that exposes our trainees in graduate medical education to course curriculum in integrative modalities. So we’re really fortunate to have a true, comprehensive academic integrative program at Memorial.
What is the importance of having events such as BEST of ASCO?
Best of ASCO is such an incredibly vibrant meeting. It has high yield topics and I feel like if I lose my attention or concentration for five minutes at Best of ASCO I’ve lost a chapter or two of information. Every single topic is incredibly well curated and orchestrated to deliver high yield, cutting edge evidence which has been presented at ASCO.
Along those same lines in integrative health we have clinical practice guidelines that now govern our thinking and our application of integrative modalities in the context of living beyond breast cancer. This is a collaboration between The Society for Integrative Oncology, SIO, and ASCO who have come together to develop these guidelines and are being published on an annual basis now. So we have clinical practice guidelines for living beyond breast cancer; coming up are integrative modalities to address anxiety and depression and so forth. So we’re really happy to be part of this vibrant and rich dialogue here at Best of ASCO.
In what ways does the FAU/MCI relationship benefit patients seeking cancer treatment?
At Memorial Health we are incredibly excited for this growing opportunity to participate in research with Florida Atlantic University. We have already taken advantage of opportunities to start the dialogue with faculty members at FAU, looking at everything from resistance exercise, so lifting weights, in the context of improving bone density and muscle tone when living beyond cancer. So that’s one example of research topics that are of great interest to us, both in integrative medicine and FAU provides us with the biostatistics support, the researchers who are really well-versed in these topics and can help guide our thinking when it comes to developing really creative clinical trials to really test these approaches.