Given the emerging demographic of the aging “baby-boomer” population, longer life expectancies, increasing incidence of cancer in the elderly, and the potential impact of perioperative care on survivorship there is a growing and immediate need for anaesthesiologists and other perioperative health care providers to be educated in and to participate in focused research in this population. The immediate need for education in this population demographic is reiterated in the Institute of Medicine’s report on “Retooling for an Aging Population”. Furthermore, British Journal of Anaesthesia, supported by The College of Anaesthetists of Ireland has recently conducted a two day “Workshop on Anaesthesia and Cancer” (Dublin, May 2013) to discuss future guidance for research and clinical focus in this subject. These efforts by prominent professional societies and bodies emphasize the need to advance collaborative research efforts in this field.
Cancer pain remains an ominous entity for patients and its effective management continues to challenge clinicians. Pain is the most common symptom in advanced cancer and it is the most feared symptom of patients with cancer. Despite our best efforts, approximately 10% of patients in the final stages of cancer have poorly controlled pain and greater than 50% of patients have moderate or severe pain after cancer surgery. Optimizing pain control in the acute phase can dramatically attenuate the risk of developing persistent pain. The challenge of providing effective pain management in advanced cancer therefore mandates a multidisciplinary and multimodal approach with a focus on improving functionality and quality of life.
For this reason, leading cancer anaesthesiologists, intensivists, pain specialists, surgeons and cancer researchers around the world are joining forces to evolve and mature a multispecialty, multinational consortium with the goal to address education, research, and clinical practice and to develop Cancer Anaesthesiology (Onco-Anaesthesia) as a subspecialty of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine.
Given the increasing importance of this area of our perioperative practice, a “Cancer Track” series of lectures was launched at the 14th World Congress of Anesthesiologists Conference, 2008, in Cape Town, South Africa. Subsequently, American Society of Anesthesiology has had special sessions on this topic at their annual meetings in 2011 and 2012.
Close collaboration between interested researchers in this field resulted in the 1st Global Conference on Perioperative Care for the Cancer Patient, hosted by the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, USA from November 28-December 2, 2012. Although onco-anesthesia is a relatively new field, this meeting dedicated exclusively to perioperative care of the cancer patient, attracted delegates from 15 countries.
Based on the success of the inaugural global conference, the international panel of scientific advisory committee members pledged to continue this program on an annual basis, with future meetings alternating between the USA and the other international locations to achieve maximal outreach to practitioners all over the world. Global partners in the collaborative from Brazil, China, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom have all expressed a sincere interest in hosting this meeting at their respective locations in future years.
The Peter MacCallum Cancer Center and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will host the 2nd Global Conference on Perioperative Care for the Cancer Patient in Melbourne, Australia from March 21-23, 2014. This conference will run parallel to the annual “Colorectal Cancer – A multidisciplinary approach” conference hosted by the Division of Cancer Surgery at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center.