By Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Chair, 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium
My love for cycling and subsequent bicycle racing career began when I was a young girl, with rides on the back of a tandem bicycle with my father; we travelled farther and faster than we could have ever achieved riding separately. Person-centered cancer care is likewise best advanced by a tandem, team approach—a dedication to cure coupled with a dedication to patient and family well-being throughout illness, treatment, and survivorship, regardless of the outcome.
Reflecting this commitment, the 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium, cosponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), ASCO, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC), brings together a multi- and interdisciplinary group of professionals united in the goal of improving quality of life for patients and their families in curative and non-curative therapies. Through its diversity of offerings, the symposium will provide clinicians and other health care professionals with opportunities to grow in their understanding of novel supportive care science and innovative clinical approaches and care models, while building community among a diverse group of clinicians and researchers.
The symposium’s general sessions will address critical, cutting-edge topics in palliative and supportive oncology care through an interwoven, dynamic format of didactic presentations, abstract presentations, and abstract discussion. Addressing barriers to the integration of palliative and oncology care, a session will highlight Innovative Models in Oncology and Palliative Care Integration in settings such as pediatrics and community and rural practices. A session on Supportive and Palliative Care in Older Adults with Cancer will highlight the unique needs of this population and novel care approaches to meet those needs. The ever-popular and highly practical session on Symptom Management has evolved from prior years. This year’s session will highlight innovative science informing management of insomnia, fatigue, and nausea, and the role of exercise in managing symptoms. Given the popularity of last year’s session on immunotherapy and the rapidly changing landscape of this field, a morning breakout session will feature an update on Palliative and Supportive Care in the Immunotherapy Era. Another timely topic, Tough Issues in Opioid Management, will address opioid prescribing in light of the current opioid epidemic and related regulations. New sessions on the critical issues of Intimacy and Sexual Health in Palliative Care and the science behind the Roles and Risks of Local Interventions—Palliative Radiation Therapy and Palliative Surgery, will wrap up the symposium.
We are also excited to welcome Dr. Angelo Volandes and Dr. Anthony Back as our keynote speakers! Dr. Volandes will feature his work on The Conversation, providing his expertise into the science and clinical practice of communicating with our patients. Dr. Back will bring his insights to the pressing subject of Clinician Burnout, highlighting its causes and offering methods for addressing this issue in ourselves and our colleagues. The symposium’s Keynote Sessions have been a highlight each year, and these timely topics and fantastic speakers are not to be missed!
Another highlight of the symposium are the opportunities it offers for smaller group sessions conducive to individualized learning, collaborative interactions, and mentorship. These include the Poster Walks, the Trainee and Early-Career Networking Luncheon, the Conversation Cafe, and the Death Cafe. These events not only provide opportunities to meet with a variety of experts in the field of palliative and supportive care in oncology, but also time for making connections with colleagues and friends. It is so important that we learn from each other and envision the future of our field together.
The Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium is a venue where we can journey together in advancing oncology care that comprehensively embraces the well-being of our patients as well as ourselves. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego on October 27-28, knowing we will most certainly go faster and farther together!
Dr. Balboni currently serves as an associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, and acts as director of the Supportive and Palliative Radiation Oncology Service at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, a service dedicated to the palliative oncology care needs of patients with advanced cancer. Dr. Balboni’s primary research interests are located at the intersection of oncology, palliative care, and the role of religion and spirituality in the experience of life-threatening illness. Her work also includes forging improved dialogue between academic theology, spiritual communities, and the field of medicine.