Integrative medicine discussed at cancer congress

Complementary and integrative medicine was debated at a recent congress organised by the Algarve Oncology Association (AOA) in Faro.

More than 150 people, including health experts, students and patients, gathered at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo do Algarve to hear discussions about integrating complementary therapies into mainstream cancer care.

In Portugal, laws regulating complementary therapies are still insufficient, specialists in conventional medicine highlighted during the three-day event.

Maria de Lurdes Pereira of the AOA told the Algarve Resident that mainstream medical doctors are open to the possible contributions of complementary therapies in the treatment of cancer, however, she said, they admit “little knowledge” of the actual benefits and mechanisms used.

“Complementary therapies require stricter regulation and a more credible organisation representing them officially,” said Maria de Lurdes.

“Despite positive clinical results, further scientific investigation into the area of complementary therapies is required in order to make it available to health professionals, patients and the general public.”

It was concluded at the congress that patients are better informed about treatment options available to them and often resort to complementary therapies to improve quality of life and reduce potential side-effects of conventional therapy.

However, greater integration of the two areas in cancer treatment was requested by patients.

Another conclusion reached at the congress was that the introduction of some complementary therapies could actually reduce costs in cancer care by decreasing the number of medical consultations and days in hospital, as well as reducing the intake of medicine and absenteeism from work.

The AOA thanked those who participated in the event for their input and “courage to debate subjects that are still controversial” but which are raising more interest among cancer patients.