Jordan Stinson - MASCC Symposium Summary Report

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) conference there was no better place to host it other than Australia. This was the first time the conference was held in the southern hemisphere and they did not disappoint.
The opening remarks were an insightful history of how far supportive care has come. From the addition of 5HT3 and NK-1 receptor antagonists to dampen the burden of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), to fentanyl patches and sublingual tablets for management of short-term breakthrough pain we have come a long way to better manage the negative side-effects of cancer and cancer treatment. The first session of Day 1 addressed the importance of e-communication in delivery of cancer care. It was amazing to hear stories of satellite treatment centres far from city access being able to provide excellent patient care through the use of videophones in patients’ homes and teleconferences with large city cancer centres to discuss case reviews and help with treatment decisions. Our very own Soha Ahrari also presented her text-messaging medication adherence study, which drew much interest from the crowd. Another presentation of interest was on the use of web-based learning programs for patients to track their chemotherapy progress and journal on their mood and side-effects to help health care professionals better understand the patient during this difficult time.
The second day started bright and early at 8AM with an industry sponsored talk on managing breakthrough pain. It is important to know that the onset of breakthrough pain can last anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple hours. It is critical to select the right opioid for the type of pain experienced. The next session titled “Nausea is the new black: innovative antiemetics” was of the utmost importance for me. This talk stressed the importance of looking at nausea as the primary endpoint when conducting antiemetic studies as it is the nausea and not the vomiting which is the most difficult to control. If you can manage the nausea first then you can hopefully minimize the vomiting. A not so new, but new in terms of antiemetic care, olanzapine has shown to be extremely effective in managing nausea in patients experiencing CINV. Patient rate nausea is more troublesome then vomiting so the better the control of nausea the better quality of life we can give patients. Always an interesting talk is the role of complementary medicine in maintaining quality of life for patients. This session discussed the benefit of yoga for patients receiving chemotherapy treatment. There was less DNA damage and less stress when patients did yoga versus regular stretching. It was important to note that this is not an alternative form of treatment, but something patients can do while on chemotherapy to help improve quality of life. The conference ended with an exciting talk on new antiemetic agents that are currently not available in Canada, but hopefully will become available within the next year or two. NEPA is a combination drug of the 5HT3 palonosetron and the NK-1 receptor antagonist aprepitant. Rolapitant and netupitant are two other NK-1 receptor antagonists with longer half-life’s then aprepitant, which could provide more options for oncologists to adjust antiemetic protocols when patients fail on one regimen.
This conference was an important refresher of supportive care in cancer and provided new data on some very exciting new drugs that hopefully will reach the market in Canada and be funded for patients to access. Presenting my research and gaining critics and appraisals was essential in forwarding my research and broadening the scope of my knowledge. My future research will continue to look at chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting with a better focus on managing nausea for patients to improve quality of life.