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The 54th Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology

Takashi Nakano, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Radiation Oncology,
Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine

I am delighted to announce that the 54th Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology will be held at the PACIFICO Yokohama Convention Center from October 20 to 22, 2016.

Since cancer became the leading cause of death in 1981, the number of cancer deaths has continued to increase year by year and the urgent fight against cancer are requested for the health of the nation. In the past few years, cancer treatment has not only focused on improving survival rates, but has also placed greater emphasis on patient rights, and there is now a strong trend toward improving QOL after treatment and assisting patients to rehabilitate and return to society. Accordingly, there are growing expectations for the development of minimally invasive cancer therapies, accurate asessment of the cancer status by advanced cancer diagnostics, and optimal application of personalized therapies. There is also a strong desire for comprehensive cancer treatments that expand to include medical assistance such as offering information to patients, providing psychological support and educating patients about self-care.

Even in my area of specialty, radiation oncology, our ability to locally control cancer has improved dramatically. Radiation therapy is a major therapeutic method that is increasingly contributing to cancer treatment owing to cutting-edge radiation therapies such as image-guided radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), proton beam therapy, and heavy particle radiation therapy. Meanwhile, great progress has also been made in surgical treatments with technological innovations like endoscopic surgery and robot-assisted surgery that have led to dramatic advancements in minimally invasive surgeries and function-preserving surgeries that focus on post-treatment QOL. In addition, with drug therapies, the development of molecular targeted drugs and the emergence of personalized immunotherapies have led to advances and expansion of comprehensive cancer treatments. Even in the fields of basic cancer research and translational research, our understanding of biological phenomena is growing broader and deeper, and interdisciplinary studies are being developed with expanding cooperation with other fields in the life sciences. Furthermore, with the globalization of medical and scientific research, international cooperative studies have been actively promoted to create reliable scientific evidence.

During this time, sluggish economic growth as well as the declining birthrate and aging population have caused Japan to shift from a growing society based on rapid economic growth to our current mature society that focuses on quality of life and maintaining the social infrastructure. As our values in life change, our perspectives on cancer treatment are also changing. In the past, cancer treatments focused on how to save patients in their productive years, yet as society ages and longevity increases, a paradigm shift is occurring in our philosophy of life that places value on the fullness of life during the stages known as “vanaprastha” and “sannyasa” in ancient Indian philosophy. Rather than simply extending survival time, there is a desire to “live better” and to lengthen the time during which patients can enjoy higher-level social and mental activities. So what and how should we cure or care in cancer management? This is the beginning of an era of “sublation (aufheben) of cancer treatment that is brought about by combination of innovative medicine with a new philosophy of life” that will overcome the over-burdened medical society and reconstruct the philosophy of cancer treatments based on a fresh awareness derived not only from the perspectives of medical professionals and patients, but also from the viewpoints of culture, civilization, and ecology.

With this in mind, the theme for the 54th Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology will be “Renovation of Cancer Medicine in the Mature Society”. The following three subthemes have been selected: “Cancer medicine supporting for Raison d’etre”, “Innovative cancer therapy comfortable for patients” and “Cancer therapy supporting for society”. I would like to open our meeting to public through public lectures and reliable clinical outcome for current cancer treatments and pressing medical issues can be discussed with the public from the angle of “medical care in a mature society”.

Subtheme 1: The key topics for “Cancer medicine supporting for Raison d’etre” will include: cancer therapies and beliefs regarding life and death, pros and cons of cancer therapies, moving from EBM to QOL-based cancer therapy, fostering social values for cancer survivors, and “cancer refugees”. Discussions should involve where cancer care should be in terms of supporting the worth living of cancer patients.

Subtheme 2: The key topics for “Innovative cancer therapy comfortable for patients” will include: function-preserving cancer therapy, radiation therapy, particle beam therapy, limited resection, robot-assisted surgery, elective cancer therapy, fourth-line and fifth-line cancer therapies, the role of psycho-oncology, and reducing the burden of cancer testing. Discussions should involve cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic techniques that are minimally invasive and less burdensome for the patient as well as the current state of assistive technologies for supporting the physical and mental needs of patients.

Subtheme 3: The key topics for “Cancer therapy supporting for society” will include: international strategies for cancer therapies, the centralization and sharing of human resources and cancer therapy, cancer treatments that have features unique to their locality, depopulation/overpopulation and cancer therapy, cancer treatment information in Internet communities and in the age of cloud computing, medical economics and the possibility of medical tourism for cancer treatment, and cooperation among industry, government and academia. Discussions should consider how cancer treatments can be managed in our society on a global and local level. For the field of radiation therapy, I would particularly like to see topics based on the actual results of international contributions and leading efforts in Asia through organizations such as the IAEA.

Although my expectations might appear grandiose, this meeting is meant to be straightforward and to serve as a hub for exchanging information on the latest topics. Faculty members are working together to organize a meeting that will be a valuable forum for the enthusiastic presentation of academic research with links to the next meeting as well as to the scientific results of the 53rd Annual Meeting led by professor Ikuo Konishi of Kyoto University.

I sincerely thank everyone for their assistance and participation in making the 54th Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology a resounding success.