Research Scientist with eydropper

Pediatric Integrative Oncology

“To identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health.”

This is the stated mission of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.  And while the activities of the Center have grown to address these and many other health problems, the founding purpose – and the very name of the Center – specifically targets pediatric cancer.

By Lawrence D. Rosen, MD
Medical Advisor,
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center ®

It is our belief that integrative medicine – an evidence-based blending of safe and effective complementary and conventional therapies – best speaks to the Center’s mission.  Environmental factors that affect health – especially with an eye towards prevention – are an integral component of integrative medicine.  Studying how the environment impacts our children’s health is crucial, but understanding how the practice of healthcare affects the environment is equally important.  The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital is a world-class institution leading the way in green healthcare while providing the highest quality care for children with cancer.  From a research, clinical and education perspective, we believe the excellent programs here can be augmented through the integration of safe and effective CAM (complementary and alternative medical) therapies. 


It is estimated that over 50% of children with cancer are utilizing CAM treatments.  What types of treatments?  Lifestyle factors, such as nutrition and fitness, are keys to success.  Obesity and malnourishment are big concerns for those undergoing both acute treatment and long-term health surveillance.  Mind-body therapies – guided imagery, meditation, biofeedback, self-hypnosis – are also CAM therapies that have been shown to be effective in reducing pain and anxiety during procedures and in general.  Aromatherapy and homeopathy have both been studied and found to be helpful adjunctive treatments for nausea and pain symptoms in children with cancer.  Acupuncture is a safe and effective complement for prevention and treatment of nausea and pain.  We are seeking to actively investigate the safety and efficacy of these CAM modalities, as initial research is very promising in enhancing the quality of pediatric oncology patients’ lives.  The concept is so important that the Children’s Oncology Group, which coordinates all clinical research trials, includes a Complementary Therapies Committee. 

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