Therapy dogs benefit adult patients with cancer receiving chemo, radiation

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According to a new study published in the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology, researchers at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, New York, have found that therapy dogs improve the emotional well-being of some patients with cancer who are undergoing concomitant chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

For the study, researchers enrolled patients with gastrointestinal cancer or head and neck cancer who were undergoing intensive multi-modal chemoradiation. They found that these patients experienced increases in quality of life and emotional well-being when they were visited by certified therapy dogs during their treatment course. 

Even when patients experienced significant declines in both functional and physical well-being during their treatment course, their emotional well-being significantly improved when visited by the therapy dogs. Some patients reported that they would have discontinued their treatment if they were not receiving visits from the therapy dog and volunteer handler.

The findings suggest that therapy dogs are a creative and valuable intervention that can be utilized to improve the emotional well-being of patients receiving concomitant chemotherarpy and radiation.

Importance of sequence in chemotherapy administration
Therapy dogs improve the emotional well-being of some patients with cancer.
Therapy dogs may improve the emotional well-being of some cancer patients, according to results of a clinical study, the first to document the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in adult cancer patients. The research was made available this week in the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology.
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