Enhancing cancer care in Europe through integrative oncology

In the framework of the European Week Against Cancer 2024, the MEP Interest Group on Integrative Medicine and Health, in collaboration with the European Society for Integrative Medicine (ESIM) and Experts from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, hosted an online webinar on Monday, May 27, focusing on the added value of Integrative Oncology.

Integrative Oncology is an inclusive, patient-centered approach, combining practices from various medical traditions with conventional treatments to enhance health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes at all stages of cancer. Following the 2020 Integrative Oncology conference and the 2023 Integrative Oncology Breakfast Roundtable, the 27 May webinar continued the dialogue on the role of Integrative Oncology in cancer care, exploring the benefits to patients from integrative treatments and presenting best practices for integration across Europe.

The webinar featured an expert panel, including Prof. Dr. Georg Seifert a TCIM expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) and Professor at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Prof. Dr. Jalid Sehouli, Deputy Director of the Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCCC), Prof. Dr. Eran Ben-Arye, co-founder and director of the Unit of Complementary and Traditional Medicine at the Department of Family Medicine, Haifa, and MEP Manuela Ripa of the Ecological Democratic Party in Germany (Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei). The panelists shared insights on the use and availability of Integrative Oncology in Europe, highlighting successful implementations at institutions like Charité.

Dr. Georg Seifert, Professor at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, began by emphasizing the significant role of research in elevating the agenda of Integrative Medicine at the highest levels. “As the director of the upcoming Charité Competence Center on Traditional and Integrative Medicine (CCCTIM), I am honored to lead this initiative, which represents the culmination of my lifelong dedication to advancing science in Traditional and Integrative Medicine. We are committed to promoting the Traditional and Integrative Medicine agenda globally through rigorous research to improve healthcare overall.”

Dr. Jalid Sehouli explained, Integrative Oncology offers a comprehensive approach to cancer care, combining the best of conventional and complementary treatments to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”

Currently, 37% of cancer patients in Europe opt for complementary modalities alongside conventional care, despite scattered information about Integrative Oncology, as underlined by the patients in the webinar. The growing body of evidence supports the efficacy of these treatments in improving quality of life, though further research is needed.

Two cancer patients currently receiving  Integrative Oncology treatments shared their experiences. Madene Shachar stated, “I’ve been receiving Integrative Oncology treatment for over a year, with more than 50 procedures that have significantly improved my well-being.”

Veronique Verheyen added, “It’s crucial that policymakers in Europe support better access to Integrative Oncology for all cancer patients.”

MEP Manuela Ripa highlighted, “As we prioritise public health in the upcoming European Institutions term, healthcare must focus on patient-centered approaches, empowering individuals in their care decisions. Ensuring the availability and affordability of integrative and complementary methods is essential across Europe.”

EUROCAM chair, Elisa Baldini, concluded the webinar, stating: 

Together, we have the opportunity to improve the future of cancer care in Europe, ensuring the holistic support that is much needed for such a  challenging journey. 

(….)Eurocam is committed to the creation of a European Network on Integrative Oncology, together with all the relevant actors, to collaboratively address the European citizens’ demands for safe, quality and integrative Cancer Care”.

She also called for increased funding to further study the role of Traditional Complementary and Integrative Medicine (TCIM) in cancer care, underlying that Integrative Oncology must be an integral part of the ongoing efforts at the EU level to combat cancer.

Background information

Cancer stands as the second leading cause of death in the European Union, with 2.6 million new cases diagnosed annually. Europe shoulders over a quarter of the global cancer burden, translating into an economic impact of €100 billion each year.

While European healthcare systems provide effective conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy, there remains a significant gap in the availability of Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Healthcare (TCIH) treatments. These integrative treatments, including acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Indian Medicine and Anthroposophic Medicine, offer potential benefits when combined with conventional cancer therapies to alleviate patient suffering.

Integrative Oncology enhances cancer treatment by:

  1. Promoting a healthy lifestyle to prevent cancer and recurrence through nutrition, physical activity, and mental and emotional health.
  2. Optimizing healthcare systems through a multidisciplinary team and the application of complementary and integrative modalities.



EUROCAM advocates for the accessibility, availability, and affordability of Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Healthcare for all European citizens, striving for its integration into healthcare systems and the expansion of research budgets.

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