Breakfast Roundtable on Integrative Oncology

On Thursday, 7 June, the MEP Interest Group on Integrative Medicine and Health hosted a breakfast roundtable at the European Parliament, focusing on the role of Integrative Oncology in improving cancer treatment outcomes for patients. The event, organised by EUROCAM and hosted by MEP Manuela Ripa on behalf of the Interest Group, aimed to explore how Integrative Oncology can help reduce patient suffering and enhance long-term prospects while exchanging on best practices for integrating complementary cancer care across Europe. Building upon the discussions initiated during the 2021 Integrative Oncology conference, the roundtable emphasised the importance for continued actions at European level in this field.

“Patients’ health must be at the centre of any policy to tackle cancer,” emphasized Manuela Ripa, host of the roundtable, as she opened the discussion. She underscored the significance of availability and access to integrative healthcare options in cancer care, stating that “healthcare should be people-centred, and patients should be active participants in their own care”.

Manfred Lucha, Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Integration in Baden-Württemberg, extended a warm welcome to participants, stressing the need to “learn from each other and to connect with other experts.” In his video message, Lucha highlighted the growing interest in integrative care and reiterating Baden-Württemberg’s response to this demand. Lucha explained that within the  Integrative Medicine Competence Network, funded by the region, “different medicine specialties, disciplines, practices, and researchers collaborate closely to develop, introduce, and evaluate integrative treatment concepts. The aim is to now transfer the successful outcomes of these projects into standard care.”

The roundtable featured presentations from leading experts specialized in Integrative Oncology. These experts, including Dr. Eran Ben-Arye, Society for Integrative Oncology; Dr. Massimo Bonucci, Associazione Ricerca Terapie Oncologiche Integrate, ARTOI; Dr. Hüseyin Sahinbas, German Society for Hyperthermia; Dr. Miek Jong, Norway’s National Research Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAFKAM); Dr. Elio Rossi, Regional Center for Integrative Medicine, Tuscany; and Dr. Thomas Breitkreuz, Competence Network on Integrative Medicine in Baden-Württemberg, shared their valuable insights and experiences in healthcare delivery. The panel discussion was opened by Dr. Ortwin Zais, on behalf of the German patient organisation Saarländische Krebsliga. These insightful presentations shed light on the enhanced value that integration efforts bring to the field, emphasising the benefits of integrating safe and evidence-based practices into cancer care across the entire continuum.

Dr. Antonella Pollazzi, on behalf of Tuscany Region, concluded the event by highlighting the importance of continued collaboration among stakeholders to advance Integrative Oncology and the need to ensure access to safe and effective integrative treatments.  “Our hope for the near future is to witness the two pioneering regions of Tuscany and Baden-Württemberg, alongside other excellent centres in Europe, come together to share their experiences and best practices in cancer care”, stating that “the Tuscany Region confirms its support to Integrative Healthcare and Integrative Oncology, and will support the creation of a European Integrative Oncology Network.” Dr. Pollazzi closed the session by calling on the European Commission to follow the example of Tuscany and Baden-Württemberg to create an enabling political environment for Integrative Oncology to become part of the EU response to cancer.

The breakfast roundtable on Integrative Oncology provided a valuable forum for leading experts to share their knowledge and experiences on best practices for integrating different medical traditions into mainstream cancer care. The outcome of this event will guide future actions, inspiring continued dialogue and paving the way for the availability of effective and safe integrative oncology options, improving health outcomes for cancer patients across Europe and promoting patient-centred healthcare.

Integrative Oncology is a holistic and patient-centred approach to cancer care that combines practices from different medical traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments.

MEP Interest Group on Integrative Medicine and Health

The Interest Group promotes Integrative Medicine and Health in all European Parliament public health policies. Integrative Medicine and Health bring conventional biomedicine and complementary medicine together in a coordinated way, focuses on the whole person and considers the individual in their physical, psychological, spiritual, social and environmental context. It offers an inclusive approach that meets the demand of EU citizens for a holistic, patient-centred approach in medicine.

Members of the MEP Interest Group on Integrative Medicine & Health:

Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP, Finland
Tilly Metz, Greens/EFA, Luxembourg
Manuela Ripa, Greens/EFA, Germany
Michèle Rivasi, Greens/EFA, France
Margrete Auken, Greens/EFA, Denmark
Romana Jerković, S&D, Croatia

More about the MEP Interest Group on Integrative Medicine & Health can be read here.