Peter Mac News

Inaugural symposium highlights benefits of integrating oncology and wellbeing

10 May 2024

Peter Mac’s Patient Experience and Wellbeing team have taken part in the inaugural National Integrative Oncology and Wellbeing in Supportive Cancer Care Symposium.

The symposium, held in Sydney, was developed as a partnership between the Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness Centre, the Living Room at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Peter Mac and follows on from the work done to develop an Integrative Oncology in Cancer Care White Paper last year.

Peter Mac’s Director Patient Experience & Wellbeing, Geri McDonald, spoke at the event to an audience that included health care professionals, policy makers, researchers, consumers, and not-for-profit organisations.

“The Symposium highlighted that embedding integrative care within the conventional cancer care environment is very challenging,” Geri said.

“It was a great chance to explore the current landscape and emerging evidence regarding the implementation of integrative oncology and wellbeing programs into standard comprehensive cancer care.

“Bringing together service providers from across Australia and the USA demonstrated the variability in how models of wellbeing care are delivered,” she said.

Geri said it was clear that integrative care appears to be more common in America, and we could learn from their approach.


“The US has comprehensive evidence-based guidelines endorsed by ASCO for incorporating integrative therapies into conventional clinical practice (SIO Clinical Practice Guidelines) and the MD-Anderson Cancer Centre has systematic lifestyle questions integrated within the medical record to facilitate appropriate referrals early in the cancer journey,” she said.

“There is also an increasing evidence base regarding the impact of integrative and supportive care on improving patient outcomes in both the treatment of cancer and during survivorship.

“Improving quality of life supports people to remain in engaged with their treatments, improves treatment response, supports them transition to survivorship or end of life care.

“There was also very strong evidence presented regarding the impact of exercise on both the prevention of cancer and enhancing cancer outcomes. Exercise has also been associated with reduced hospital length of stay.  

“To support integration in the future there is a need for champions (both clinical and non-clinical) to drive system change. Ongoing evaluations of integrative interventions are essential, including qualitative data and the potential economic benefits.

“Clinicians also need continuing education on the emerging evidence of the benefits of complementary therapies and lifestyle change to support integration at the clinician-patient level,” Geri said.