Heather Greenlee, ND, PhD
Cancer has been up close and personal for me since I was a teenager, when my stepfather was diagnosed with a glioblastoma. His medical treatment was excellent, but much more could have been done to improve his quality of life and help my family navigate the process more smoothly. That experience, in part, was what inspired me to study both naturopathic medicine and epidemiology — I wanted to go beyond just treating disease to focusing on preventing cancer and promoting the health and well-being of patients and their families. What I love about my work is the opportunity to help patients with cancer make sound decisions about using integrative medicine while also conducting research into promising, new therapies.
I have a broad understanding of how integrative therapies can be used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment to ease side effects and bolster overall health and well-being. These therapies include practices such as acupuncture and meditation, as well as lifestyle behaviors such as diet and physical activity. I help you make decisions so that you can invest your time and resources into evidence-based activities and practices. Together, we create a plan that evolves over time because what you need during active treatment isn’t necessarily what you need during survivorship. Every step of the way you can expect me to listen, guide you through your options and work in concert with you and your team of medical providers.
Trained as a naturopathic physician and an epidemiologist, I am the medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program at SCCA. I help patients with all cancer types work toward their health and wellness goals, during treatment and beyond.
Research is a vital part of my work. I’ve led multiple clinical trials studying topics like diet, physical activity, weight management, acupuncture and dietary supplements for cancer survivors. The goal of our research is to understand what cancer survivors can do, in addition to conventional treatment, to manage symptoms and side effects and improve prognosis. In 2017, I co-authored a study that showed acupuncture was effective at relieving joint pain caused by a popular class of breast cancer drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. Past president of the Society for Integrative Oncology, I also co-led the creation of the clinical guidelines for using integrative therapies with patients who have breast cancer. These guidelines were recently endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.
Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.
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SCCA’s Heather Greenlee, MD, PhD, spoke with The ASCO Post about the newly redesigned Cook for Your Life website for cancer patients and survivors.
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