By Christina K. Ullrich, MD, MPH
Chair, 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium Program Committee
The 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, co-sponsored by AAHPM, ASCO, ASTRO, MASCC, will build on last year’s highly successful Symposium. Sessions will feature cutting-edge research and opportunities for oncology, palliative care clinicians, and other health care professionals to network, develop collaborations, learn from one another, and grow professionally. The structure and content will bring together a range of professionals from a variety of practice settings to think about the many facets of palliative care in oncology. I can’t think of any other venue that does quite the same thing!
A ever-popular part of the Symposium are the General Sessions, which will again be structured with abstract presentations, abstract discussions and didactic presentations woven together to allow for deeper exploration of important topics. The General Sessions have been selected to address timely topics that are highly relevant to professionals in oncology and palliative care. Immuno-therapeutics are an exciting advancement in cancer care and a session focusing on this therapy will take us beyond their efficacy in treating cancer, allowing a closer examination of their use and ramifications for patients. Another session will take us Beyond the Basics of Symptom Assessment and Management, spotlighting distressing symptoms such as delirium and radiotherapy-induced oral complications and the use of novel technology to assess patient-reported symptom outcomes.
Sessions on caring for Patients with Hematologic Malignancy, and Underserved Populations with Cancer will highlight patient populations with high-and often unmet- palliative care needs. Another session on The Caregiver in Palliative Care will similarly expand our thinking, going beyond the patients themselves, to consider the needs and experience of those integral to the care and support of patients. In the final session we will take on Conundrums and Controversies: Hot Topics in the Care of Patients with Advanced Cancer. Treatment of chronic pain, opioids, caring for patients with addiction, and medical marijuana are hot topics these days and this session is sure to inform and stimulate discussion!
Another highlight of the Symposium is the mix of large group didactic learning opportunities of broad interest, and smaller, more intimate sessions allowing for more individualized learning and interaction between participants. Poster Walks, one-on-one Expert Office Hours, an Early-Career Professional Networking Lunch and lunchtime Roundtable Discussions with Faculty provided a forum for attendees to discuss specific topics. Breakout Sessions will encompass didactic and discussion formats and will allow participants to choose from an array of exciting topics. The Keynote Sessions are not to be missed and are guaranteed to be standing room only! Stayed tuned for more information about the Breakout and Keynote sessions.
I always come away from the Symposium rejuvenated and inspired to find new ways to improve palliative care for all people with high-risk or advanced cancer. This year’s Symposium is sure to do the same. See you in San Francisco!
Dr. Ullrich is an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in pediatric oncology and pediatric palliative care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital.