Inspire2Live Update: Integrative Oncology

On Saturday, October 19 through Monday, October 21, 2019, the Society for Integrative Oncology’s 16th International Conference presented an exceptional opportunity to learn about new findings in integrative oncology from healthcare/scientific disciplines that have the potential to transform cancer care internationally. The conference, co-hosted this year by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, took place in New York. It focused on the theme of Advancing the Science & Art of Integrative Oncology.

The organization aims to advance the scientific understanding of the role of integrative therapies play in cancer care and to promote the art of humanistic care that recognizes the values, preferences, and rights of patients and families.

More than 400 attendees, including integrative oncology researchers, practitioners, students, patient advocates, funding agency representatives and health policy analysts from different areas such as the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia attended the meeting. Unfortunately not more than 20 patient advocates attended this organization. As mentioned before, we want to be at the table and not on the menu. It is important that the organization involved invites and informs patient advocates to attend the meeting. According to my opinion this should be mandatory.

Plenary presentations featured sessions on Lifestyle, Microbiome, and Sleep. There were a lot of sessions highlighting the latest clinical, research, and methodological issues with a focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Integrative Oncology. Different care providers discussed their experience and underlined that there is a lot to do to recognize, implement and offer integrative oncology for cancer patients and their beloved ones.

An Italian model of Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS, focusing on a preoperative integrative approach to breast cancer patients gave hope. It took MD Stefano Magno 15 years to provide patient centered care. The upper floor of his hospital provides a prehabilitation programme after diagnosis and before surgery with a focus on exercise, nutrition, lifestyle choices and stress management. The interior is calming, relaxing and looks like a spa treatment centre where acupuncture, reflexology and manual therapy are common and included in the programme.

As a former cancer patient with a focus on cancer survivorship, I hope to create more awareness for this topic. My ultimate goal is to make initiatives in the Netherlands accessible to all cancer patients and their beloved ones. If you have suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact me via: tugba.turk@inspire2live.org

Tugba Türk
Patient Advocate Inspire2Live