Europe: Integrative oncology in the EU
Cancer treatment is one of the areas that repeatedly discussed in connection with the current health crisis. The occurrence of cancer is on the rise worldwide. Conventional cancer treatments are not always successful, yet they are very expensive and have severe side effects for the patients.
In 2014, EPAAC (European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (236)) produced an extensive report named Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in cancer care – Development and opportunities of Integrative Oncology (237). The main authors were experts from Tuscany with have long-term experience in the field (see p. 198). The report points out that, although CAM's direct influence on cancer development is still rather limited, the ability of CAM therapies to alleviate the problems associated the disease as well as the side effects of the treatment is very promising. Such side effects include long-term pain, nausea, vomiting, flushing, xerostomia, mucositis, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, etc. (238) Oncology patients often seek out alternative methods without harsh side effects to improve the quality of their lives (239). The authors of the report emphasize that oncology patients and their physicians should be properly and adequately informed about CAM options. Access to cancer treatment should be multidisciplinary and provide every patient with the best possible comprehensive care (240).
In 2013, Tuscan scientists conducted a survey of the distribution of integrative oncology centres in the EU. Doctor Elio Rossi worked on the survey and published his results at the International Congress on Integrative Health and Medicine in 2016. Figure 23 is a survey map which was used during his presentation. As shown in the annexed table (Table 8), 123 of the 236 centres that were approached took part in the survey (i.e. 52.1%). The results showed that of the 99 centres that met the research criteria, 47 centres within the EU provided integrative oncology care. Twenty-four of these centres are in Italy and 23 are in other EU countries. The most common CAM therapies used in the care of oncological patients are acupuncture (55.3%), homeopathy (40.4%), herbal medicine (38.3%), traditional Chinese medicine (36.2%), anthroposophic medicine (21.3%) and homotoxicology (12.8%)241.
Distribution of integrative oncology centres in EU
Figure 23 – Medical centres in the EU that combine conventional cancer treatment with CAM methods as supportive therapy
In the "Recommended Links" section, there is an overview with links to hospitals and health centres, mainly in Europe, where CAM is used alongside conventional cancer treatment. The list includes links to the centres.
Summary data of the survey: centres contacted, respondents, respondent meeting inclusion criteria of the survey, and respondents meeting inclusion criteria and providing integrative oncology therapies.
|total||Italy||other EU countries|
|Respondents meeting inclusion criteria||99||80,5||41||41,4||58||58,6|
|Respondents meeting inclusion criteria and providing IO / respondent centres||47||47,5||24||51,1||23||48,9|
|Respondents meeting inclusion criteria and providing IO / contacted centres||47||19,9||24||32,4||23||14,1|
Tab. 8 – Results of the 2013 survey that focused on the distribution of integrative oncology centres in the EU
Source: ROSSI, Elio. Integrative medicine in Italy and the Tuscany experience [online].
Dr. Elio Rossi (Tuscany Network for Integrative Medicine) has studied the use of CAM in the care of oncology patients for a long time. Figure 24 provides an overview of the distribution of integrative oncology centres in Europe. Rossi published the map in connection with the Workshop on Alternative Medicine which was held in the European Parliament in 2011.
Figure 24 – Distribution of integrative oncology centres in the European Union (Data from 2011)