MASCC and the Future - with Prof. Walsh
Released: April 2014
This year's Symposium Chair, Prof. Declan Walsh MD, MSc, FACP, FRCP (Cleveland Clinic Cancer Centre) recently shared in an interview about his involvement with MASCC and his thoughts on MASCC/ISOO 2014.
At last year's symposium, Prof. Walsh was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution to the society and its mission. When asked what it means to have received this most prestigious award, Prof. Walsh modestly responded that he felt it was recognition for the team of people that have worked alongside him over the years and supported his work in developing new approaches to the care of cancer patients at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Centre.
Prof. Walsh's major research interests lie in the clinical syndromes common in advanced cancer and the clinical pharmacology of symptom control. He has authored over 600 papers, abstracts and chapters.
When asked to describe some of the contributions made to MASCC, Prof. Walsh highlighted that this is his 2nd time as Symposium Chair, the first instance being 10 years ago, coincidentally when MASCC/ISOO was held in Miami, this year's hosting city.
As well as being a member of MASCC for many years, Prof. Walsh is a regular presenter at scientific meetings, an editorial consultant for MASCC's journal, Supportive Care in Cancer and a mentor for many associates who have presented research data, some of whom have also been awarded the Young Investigator Award at past symposiums.
Regarding who is MASCC/ISOO symposiums for, Prof. Walsh says that,
"[the meetings are for] any professional with a broad interest in challenges that cancer patients face during their illness, organizations that have international membership and multi/ interdisciplinary interests, and people who have the best interests of the patient at heart [together with] a mission to minimize distress and discomfort."
MASCC/ISOO symposiums were described as unique in that they have a definite scientific/clinical mission but also a humanitarian aspect that seeks to focus on the patient and their experiences. Prof. Walsh also brought up the fact that MASCC/ISOO symposiums deal with issues that face patients all around the world and for this reason, there is a significant international flavor to MASCC today.
Personally, Prof. Walsh expressed he would like to see MASCC aligning itself internationally and nationally with other organizations with similar interests. A concrete example of this will be seen in a new initiative for MASCC/ISOO 2014 - a collaboration with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
When asked about what we can expect from MASCC/ISOO symposium 2014, Prof. Walsh mentioned there will be 2 sessions on the national and international developments in supportive care, using Italy as template to act as a model.
We can also expect sessions on the role of IT in supportive care and a session on international developments in pain management, as well as making drugs available around the world.
Prof. Walsh also gave special mention to sessions that he would recommend to attend this year:
"Special interest topics make for [an] exciting, varied program with something for everybody."
Meet the expert sessions are expected to be popular, facilitating small group discussions and close contact with international experts.
Also on the program this year are 6 workshops on varying topics that give time for in-depth analysis of clinic problems. These are supplemented by 7 parallel sessions with internationally known faculty giving coordinated presentations on the workshop topics.
The second half of Prof. Walsh's interview focused on his insights into tangible contributions to the advancement of supportive cancer care, those that will be presented at MASCC/ISOO 2014 and what to be expected in the industry in the near future.
Prof. Walsh points to the fact that,
"Emerging areas [of advancement] are the individualization of treatments to make them more personalized to a specific individual. Guidelines are fundamental but genetics and other developments are allowing us to be more selective about what treatments we should employ…advances will allow us to be more plausible with implementing guidelines."
Prof. Walsh noted he hopes to hear a lot of healthy discussions on this topic in Miami this year.
Another observation Prof. Walsh made is that there is…
…an "increasing interest in the challenges that survivors have, [in their] rehabilitation and recovery after [treatment]".
Prof. Walsh commented that we need to do a better job of managing the residual effects and significant medical issues that have arisen from the disease itself or from the treatment.
The last question put to Prof. Walsh was "What is the future of this industry in your opinion?"
Prof. Walsh had these comments:
"IT and mobile technology is going to transform medical practice across the board."
"Care will shift away from hospital to the patients' community and home."
"Empower[ed] patients will be more involved in their care."
"Chronic recurrent problems in some patients will improve [as well as the] timeliness of their clinical care."
Prof. Walsh touched on the future where work and patient treatment will become a 24/7 activity which has not been done until now and will bring its own challenges…"the future looks exciting".
On behalf of MASCC/ISOO 2014 Secretariat, we would like to express a warm thanks to Prof. Declan Walsh, not only for his time to take part in this interview, but also for all his contribution to MASCC, MASCC/ISOO symposiums and to the care of millions of patients affected by cancer worldwide.
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