Fruitful discussions on CAM for cancer in Tromsø

Earlier this autumn, about 30 international delegates met in Tromsø to discuss issues around complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in supportive cancer care.

Photo of all the 24 participants at the hotel
Photo by Tine Lillegård Bergli, 2022

- Our goals for this meeting were to share the latest research findings and developments in communication and decision-making in the field, says Miek Jong, Director of NAFKAM. -We also aimed to discuss strategic goals for their facilitation in supportive cancer care and to inspire collaborative projects, particularly in the Nordic countries.

The meeting presented a unique opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics around CAM in supportive cancer care with a varied group of participants, each contributing with their own expertise and experience to the meeting: researchers, clinicians, information specialists, patients, and members of patient and practitioner organizations.

Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands were represented by NAFKAM, the Norwegian Cancer Society, the Norwegian Naturopaths’ Association (NNH), St. Olav’s University Hospital, Mid Sweden University, the Regional Cancer Centre Stockholm Gotland; the Finnish Tampere University; the Dutch Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, the Louis Bolk Institute and the Van Praag Institute (NL).

CAM – not for the cure of cancer, but to support and strengthen

The meeting consciously focused on CAM as a supportive treatment as the presented research confirmed that European cancer patients do not use CAM to primarily cure their cancer: -Cancer patients primarily use various forms of CAM to increase quality of life, cope with the cancer and for relaxation/ well-being, says Agnete E. Kristoffersen, senior researcher at NAFKAM. 

From establishing evidence to developing tools and communication: safety first

Starting off with presentations of recent research studies on efficacy, the focus moved to communication: tools and education programmes for medical professionals, evidence-based information in practical application, perception of risk among conventional and complementary healthcare providers, CAM use of cancer patients, tools for cancer patients, and insights from cancer patients and their carers (A selection of interesting articles presented in Tromsø can be accessed via the list at the bottom of this page).

All presentations informed the discussion to formulate the strategic goals for facilitating communication and education in CAM for cancer: evidence-based information, education as well as open and effective communication are all crucial elements in ensuring safe and effective patient care.

The way forward: Working together

- The meeting showcast the number of successful research and communication projects already conducted and implemented in the respective countries, says NAFKAM's Miek Jong. – With patient safety as the highest priority, delegates have taken concrete steps to share materials and resources across all countries, particularly in the areas of educational materials including online courses and the development of tools for patients and healthcare professionals.

Further reading


Norway's National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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