The 25th Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) Meeting

August 11th, 2016 in Reflection

Author: Gillian Blanchard

Affiliations: Conjoint Lecturer School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, Australia 

MASCC 2016 brought together over 1070 delegates from 50 counties to Adelaide, South Australia.

The meeting’s motto is “supportive care makes excellent cancer care possible” and was held over 4 days from the 22nd to the 24th of June. It featured a pre-conference cancer nurse practitioner workshop and patient seminar; six pre-conference Study Group workshops (mucositis research, nutritional care in advanced cancer, supportive care and immunotherapy, end of life, cancer related cognitive impairment and sleep, drowsiness and fatigue), plenary sessions on survivorship, gastrointestinal toxicity, and the future of supportive care, a patient seminar, e-posters, and a parallel paper session for each MASCC Study Group.

ISNCC hosted a display at the conference; this provided Australian ISNCC members an opportunity to promote the work of ISNCC and the benefits of membership.

The Cancer Nurse Practitioner pre- conference workshop was organized by the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia Nurse Practitioner Specialist Practice Network (CNSA CNP SPN). This event was designed for Cancer Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Clinicians. The program incorporated plenary presentations and Supportive Care Interactive Learning Sets (SCILS) and was attended by 53 delegates.

The plenary sessions featured local and international speakers Prof Dorothy Keefe: Supportive care challenges, Dr Karen Mustian: Exercise oncology from behavior to biology – Treating cancer-related fatigue, Tracey Doherty: The role of the nurse in supportive care and Prof Lawrence Einhorn: Controversies in management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

The SCILS workshops focused on Breathlessness and persistent cough, Anxiety and Depression, Clots and novel anticoagulants and Oral health, mucositis and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Overall the workshop provided a great opportunity for networking and updating one’s skills and knowledge in the area of advanced practice nursing.

Prof Larry Einhorn presented ‘Nausea is the New Black’.  Prof Einhorn proposed that in 2016, nausea not vomiting is the main element of toxicity for Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV) and that Olanzapine, an anti-psychotic, may be the most promising drug for mitigating nausea.  Indeed in 1974 when Prof Einhorn began using Cisplatin chemotherapy in testicular cancer patients they could experience up to 10 episodes of emesis a day and now the number is closer to zero.

Karen Mustian, an exercise physiologist and researcher spoke about the optimal dose of exercise for cancer related fatigue.  She advised health care professionals (HCP’s) need to become aware of our patients limitations and as such exercise should be individually tailored.  Karen emphasized that the bottom line is to avoid inactivity by starting slow and increase both intensity and duration of physical activity. Exercise interventions, it seems, are better than pharmaceuticals at reducing cancer related fatigue.

There were many other presentations that used improving patient engagement and partnering with others eg. Pharma, NGO’s and other HCP’s to meet the supportive care needs of our patients.  As clinicians we must be better at toxicity management as reported by patients, including managing both the physical and psychosocial burden these toxicities cause.

The MASCC guidelines and assessment tools can be found on their website at