The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies (ZCIT) officially opened in November 2000. The mission of the center of which I am the Medical Director is to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and their families by integrating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into traditional cancer care. The center provides affordable clinical services for both pediatric and adult patients, educates and empowers patients and staff about the use of complementary and alternative medicine, and conducts peer-reviewed research.
The center is named in memory of Leonard P. Zakim, former director of the northeast region of the Anti-Defamation League, who was a staunch supporter and advocate for complementary and alternative therapies during his years as a Dana-Farber patient.
The Zakim Center offers clinical services – such as acupuncture, massage therapy, Reiki, therapeutic touch, mind-body techniques, and nutritional consultations – and integrates them into oncology practice. In the past, opportunities to include such services in traditional medical settings suffered greatly from the lack of validated studies. We believe strongly in the need to ascertain the effectiveness of complementary therapies by conducting high quality peer-reviewed studies through collaborative relationships both at DFCI and throughout the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
The Zakim Center conducts clinical research in several areas. One study seeks to determine the effects of CAM programs such as exercise on the immune system by studying lymphocyte function and cytotoxic cells in patients with stable disease off therapy. This pilot study compares Qi Gong with a modified exercise program in patients with stable forms of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and hematologic malignancies. A second area of interest is evaluating the outcome of various complementary interventions on quality-of-life measures. Current studies explore the use of music therapy in patients with breast cancer and the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with advanced cancer. Yet another research area is understanding the mechanism of integrative therapies; e.g. if acupuncture spares chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, what is the mechanism of action?
The vision of the Zakim Center is to conduct research in collaboration with DFCI multidisciplinary care centers, the Phyllis F. Cantor Center for Research in Nursing and Patient Care Services, and licensed CAM practitioners and community institutions, such as the New England School of Acupuncture. David Rosenthal, MD, the center’s medical director, is also working with the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and other cancer designated institutions to plan scientific meetings on CAM and cancer. The purpose of these gatherings is to present the best research in integrative therapies