UPMC Launches Breast Cancer Rehab Program in Italy

By: Francesca Valagussa

A new rehabilitation program for oncology patients kicked off last week at the UPMC Institute for Health Chianciano Terme in Tuscany, Italy.

Developed for women who underwent surgery for breast cancer, the personalized program provides an integrated approach to rehabilitation that combines exercise, nutritional counseling and complementary activities, such as music therapy, tai chi and qigong.

“Promoting patients’ wellbeing and reducing the stress associated with cancer are at the core of this initiative,” said Dr. Tiziana Baglioni, director of the oncology department at the nearby Ospedale Nottola Montepulciano in Siena. As an oncologist and member of the local health authority, she has played a crucial role in securing funding for the program.

“Recent studies have shown this innovative approach results in significant reductions in anxiety and depression and improvements in quality of life,” Baglioni added. “This program prescribes exercise, healthy foods and stress management to provide patients with the tools they need for both physical and psychological recovery following cancer treatment.”

Each patient is monitored by a multidisciplinary team that collaborates with the referring oncologist to shape the program according to the individual’s needs.

“While tremendous progress has been made over the last decade in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, patients may experience cardiovascular complications and other side effects that negatively affect both quality of life and life expectancy,” said Dr. Bruno Gridelli, executive vice president of UPMC International and country manager of UPMC in Italy. “These issues can be greatly reduced with a lifestyle that cuts back or eliminates risk factors, such as alcohol and smoking, and introduces proper nutrition and regular exercise.”

For patients in the United States, the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides similar offerings.

UPMC Institute for Health Chianciano Terme complements the treatments of the Chianciano Spa with UPMC’s clinical, scientific and management expertise. Built as an extension of the spa’s thermal water therapies, the facility offers personalized diagnostic screenings, imaging and procedures for liver and digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. The institute is also home to a specialized Medical and Wellness Center that offers a cardiac rehabilitation service and programs promoting a healthy lifestyle.