A new Indiana University School of Medicine program to holistically address a cancer patient’s needs has received a $14 million gift.
Supportive oncology provides extra layers of care for patients with cancer. Some studies show it can help prolong life. The grant from the Walther Cancer Foundation will enable the creation of a program to addresses not just the management of pain and symptoms but also psychological issues like anxiety or depression.
IU School of Medicine Dean Dr. Jay Hess says it’s a growing trend in cancer care.
“We’re increasingly learning in medicine that there is the disease itself but also the patients, how it impacts their life, how they respond to it, how they manage the stresses of that,” says Hess.
Social workers and counselors will also be able to address other behaviors that influence cancer outcomes, such as nutrition or smoking cessation.
Hess says the move is a change.
“In the past we’ve been very focused on mortality, to what extent can we prolong life and now we’re going to have a team that can focus more on the quality of life and the experience of care for those patients,” says Hess.
The project will include a research component, with an aim to expand the model to other systems. More than 35,000 Hoosiers are diagnosed with cancer every year.
In addition to cancer doctors, mental health professionals will help patients try to improve quality of life.