The Multinational Association of Supportive Cancer Care (MASCC) has published “Supportive care in cancer – a MASCC perspective”

2020    For some years the MASCC Board has recognized the need for a definitive paper that focuses on supportive care in cancer. A group of longstanding MASCC members – Ian Olver, Dorothy Keefe, Jørn Herrstedt, David Warr, Fausto Roila, and Carla Ripamonti – took on this challenge and published “Supportive care in cancer – a MASCC perspective” in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer. "This year sees the 30th anniversary of the formation of MASCC, which makes it timely to review the role of supportive care in oncology practice" says Andrew Davies, MASCC president. "The article highlights the importance of supportive care in facilitating optimal treatment, and equally in maintaining or improving quality of life."

Supportive cancer care is multidisciplinary. It includes all cancer treatment specialties and palliative care as well as those from nursing and allied health. The term supportive care arose from medical oncology literature, recognizing the need to manage the increasing range of side effects of chemotherapy, in addition to managing the symptoms of cancer. Unlike palliative care, which was both a philosophy and became a specialty initially dealing with symptom control in dying patients, supportive care should be practiced by every practitioner who cares for a person with cancer from diagnosis, through the treatment phase, survivorship, and to end-of-life care. Supportive cancer care is multidisciplinary, including all cancer treatment specialties and palliative care as well as those from nursing and allied health.

Supportive care encompasses physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. It is patient centered but also evidenced based, which underpins the need for ongoing research. In addition to research into the more established toxicities of emesis and mucositis, there is increasing research activity into symptoms such as fatigue and cachexia. There is also exploration of non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise. The whole field of survivorship research has extended the support of patients well beyond the treatment phase.

The field continues to evolve. Immunotherapies have required management of a range of new toxicities. In the psychosocial area, the impact of financial toxicity of treatment has been increasingly realized. New tools to aid patient support in eHealth and mHealth allow improved monitoring and feedback from patients.

The importance of MASCC in promoting supportive care to make excellent cancer care possible continues to be essential and grow.

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