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#MASCC18 is just around the corner, but what is it?

Cancer therapy is an ever-changing beast, with new targeted agents, immunotherapies and wonder drugs popping up in science literature on a daily basis. One would think that we are almost at a point of being able to treat people with cancer effectively, but unfortunately the mainstay treatment of advanced disease continues to rely on cytotoxic drugs such as chemotherapy. Although these drugs are extremely good at killing tumour cells, they are unfortunately not very good at distinguishing between health cells and tumour cells, and it is this mechanism that leads to some of the dreadful side effects associated with cancer therapy.

Luckily, MASCC is here! MASCC, or the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer, is an international multidisciplinary organisation dedicated to research and education in all aspects of supportive care for people with cancer.

Because supportive care encompasses all aspects of care, it involves a variety of disciplines and specialists, with members comprising clinicians, social workers, scientists, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, psychologists and educators, all with a common interest of providing the best care for people going through cancer treatment.

What is supportive cancer care?

Supportive cancer care tackles the prevention and management of adverse effects of cancer and its treatment, including the management of physical and psychological symptoms and side effects across the continuum of the cancer experience from diagnosis through treatment to post-treatment care. Enhancing rehabilitation, secondary cancer prevention, survivorship, and end-of-life care are integral to supportive care.

The incredible Dr Mario Lacouture of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre at the 2017 MASCC Meeting in Washington DC.

In collaboration with the International Society for Oral Oncology (ISOO), members of MASCC meet on a yearly basis, providing professionals and trainees from diverse fields the opportunity to share their knowledge and collaborate on research and discuss the best new practices in supportive cancer care. Topics address new treatments and technologies to manage the symptoms of cancer and side effects of therapy, as well as psychosocial and economic concerns. Annual events include plenary and parallel sessions, multidisciplinary workshops, e-posters presentations, study group meetings, and social events. The meeting is open to anyone with an interest in improving supportive care and quality of life for people with cancer and cancer survivors.

My experience at MASCC

I have been lucky enough to be involved with MASCC since 2013, where I first presented my honours research findings in Berlin. It provided me with not only the confidence to present my work on an international stage, but it gave me a great sense of community knowing that there is a group of dedicated people with the same interest in supportive care as I do. The networking capacity has been extremely beneficial for me, as I have been able to visit a number of international laboratories, collaborate of research projects with people from all over the world, and it has now enabled me to move to the Netherlands to pursue my career in paediatric oncology. The conference dinner is also a great opportunity to get to know my peers in an informal and fun setting. Most importantly for me though, the Mucositis Study Group has provided me with a number of leadership opportunities I would not have otherwise had. I am now part of the team that develop and disseminate the Mucositis Clinical Practice Guidelines, I lead the team developing the Risk Prediction Strategies and I am also the Social Media Liaison for the study group. By engaging in these leadership roles, I have not only increased my international reputation, but I have also gained invaluable experiences in critical review, clinical comprehension and study design from my senior colleagues.

If you are interested in getting involved in MASCC, as a researcher, clinician, carer, nurse or anyone interested in supportive care, don’t hesitate to hop on the website. It truly is an exceptional group to be a part of.

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