Every year, the 4 of February marks World Cancer Day, drawing attention to cancer as a global health issue. This Saturday, healthcare practitioners, patients, and policy makers are uniting to “Close the care gap”, promoting actions to improve access to cancer care in all countries. Following the learnings of the COVID-19, this year’s World Cancer Day raises awareness on the need for novel partnerships and collaborations, to provide comprehensive treatments for cancer patients across the whole cancer pathway.
The potentials of Integrative Oncology
Integrative approaches to oncology have demonstrable positive benefits for patients, in both preventive care and treatment. Policy makers should take these learnings into account in future strategies tackling the burden of cancer and recommend their inclusion into national healthcare.
Integrative Oncology is a holistic and patient-focused approach to cancer treatment, combining conventional medical interventions of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery with medical interventions like Anthroposophic Medicine, Homeopathy, Ayurvedic Medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Adding Integrative Medicine to the standard health care model can help patients with disease burden and side effects of conventional cancer treatment improving health, quality of life, and clinical results at all phases of the disease.
While Integrative Oncology is increasingly requested by patients, global and national policies should encourage access to these therapeutic options and support their integration into healthcare delivery.
Strengthening cancer care
In February 2022, Members of the European Parliament highlighted the ‘’importance of developing a holistic, integrative and patient-centred approach’’ and its “benefits to patients in relation to the parallel effects of several diseases, such as cancer, and their treatment; (…) encouraging, where appropriate, the complementary use of these therapies.”
A growing number of leading oncology centres already provide Integrative Medicine along their conventional oncological treatments, and regional networks provide examples for better integration of these options into healthcare systems.
One such example is the Competence Network on Integrative Medicine (KIM), sponsored by the German state of Baden-Württemberg, is a pioneering region in the field of integrative medicine, bringing together university and community hospitals, outpatient networks, and research organizations to develop, implement, and assess best practices for efficient, safe and high-quality integrative treatments in Integrative Oncology.
Another is the Middle East Cancer Consortium, which is an intergovernmental health organization for cancer research and treatment, that brings together scientists, academicians, and clinical professionals from its member countries. This regional initiative promotes the exchange of best practices, including the role of Integrative Oncology, through conferences, workshops, and courses, and fosters the expansion of palliative care delivery in its member countries.
“We would like to continue bringing the message of the European Parliament forward and further encourage the inclusion of Integrative Medicine into healthcare” – says Dr. Thomas Breitkreuz, IVAA’s President. Incorporation of Integrative Oncology practices into standard care would not only guarantee a safe and effective treatment scheme, but also improve quality of life and clinical outcomes, while enhancing care for patients overall by making such options available.
“Worldwide, we already have these established partnerships in place, which may serve as examples to policy makers.” – he adds. “We believe that options for integrative oncology should be offered to all patients” – Dr. Breitkreuz concludes.
 The campaign theme of 2022-2024
 On 16th of February, the European Parliament (EP) approved the report “Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer – towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy”, drafted by the EP Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA). The report proposes priorities and actions to the European Commission on the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.
International Federation of Anthroposophic Medical Associations (IVAA)