ASCO, in collaboration with international oncology societies, hosts International Palliative Care Workshops (IPCWs) designed to teach participants practical skills in patient communication and the management of cancer symptoms and pain. The IPCWs are led by ASCO member volunteers and local experts who serve as faculty. Sessions include communication strategies, such as how to deliver bad news to patients and families; methods for pain assessment and medication management; comprehensive care and symptom management practices; and strategies for implementing palliative care services in various practice settings (hospitals, community clinics, etc).
In September 2019, ASCO partnered with the Russian Society of Clinical Oncology (RUSSCO) to hold the first IPCW in Russia. More than 40 oncologists, general physicians, and other health-care workers from around Russia attended the workshop, which was held in Vladivostok.
The workshop featured case-based presentations and interactive sessions on different aspects of palliative care, including the value of early palliative care, communicating prognosis, pain pathophysiology, negotiating goals of care, advance care planning, and managing side effects.
According to a survey given to attendees, nearly 60% reported never having attended a palliative care course before, though 60% spent more than a quarter of their time with patients delivering palliative care. At the end of the workshop, 98% of respondents stated they planned to make changes in their practice based on what they learned at the workshop.
Jessica Geiger, PharmD, MS, BCPS, CPE
Jessica Geiger, PharmD, MS, BCPS, CPE, one of the faculty who led the Russian IPCW, said, “The physicians we interacted with were so receptive to our teaching and were highly engaged. I could feel the enthusiasm … and cannot wait to see the growth of palliative care in Russia. It was an honor to be included in this educational activity.”
The attendee feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive:
This was the third workshop that ASCO has collaborated on with RUSSCO. Previously, ASCO has held two International Clinical Trial Workshops with the Society, as well as joint sessions at RUSSCO’s annual meeting—the Russian National Cancer Congress—in Moscow.
Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO
At the time of publication, an ASCO/RUSSCO joint session is planned at the Russian National Cancer Congress in 2020, where ASCO President-Elect Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, will be a speaker.
ASCO is currently accepting applications for IPCWs in 2021. If your organization is interested in applying to host a workshop, please contact ASCO International at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From a Single Course, a Far-Reaching Impact Across the Region
Ilya Tsimafeyeu, MD
It was a great honor for the Russian Society of Clinical Oncology (RUSSCO) to collaborate on the ASCO IPCW, and for me to be a co-organizer of the event from the Russian side.
RUSSCO is a professional cancer society with the mission to advance cancer treatment and cures. The organization represents the leading authority within the Russian Federation and Commonwealth of Independent States on education and research. Over 4,000 medical professionals have joined RUSSCO’s ranks and help to create forward-looking solutions for continuous improvement, professional growth, and the sharing of knowledge.
RUSSCO held 89 events around Russia last year. Undoubtedly, one of the most striking and significant events of the past year was the IPCW. It was held in Vladivostok, the capital of Primorye and the Far East region. The distance between this region and Moscow is 9,165 kilometers—or 9 hours by flight. It is very difficult for doctors and health-care providers from the Far East region to get to the central part of Russia and gain new knowledge that will be put into practice. Moreover, there was not a single palliative care department in this region. Therefore, ASCO and RUSSCO had a primary goal to provide new knowledge in palliative care and a secondary goal to stimulate the regional Ministry of Health to move forward in the organization of palliative care services.
Frank Ferris, MD, and his team, including Shannon Moore, MD, MPH, and Jessica Geiger, PharmD, MS, BCPS, CPE, arrived in Vladivostok with great enthusiasm and lots of bags with IPCW materials and information. For 3 days, they transferred their enthusiasm to all IPCW participants, as well as to the Minister of Health and Head of the Primorye Regional Cancer Center, who were invited as special guests. The largest Russian television channel—Rossija—released a special program about the event, the need for palliative care for the people in the region, and the current possibilities of the palliative care approach.
The Palliative Care Program has now been approved in the Vladivostok region, including the foundation of a palliative care department with 115 beds (105 for adult patients and 10 for children). Sixty-five nurses also will be involved in outpatient palliative service.
RUSSCO is very grateful to ASCO and personally to staff members Vanessa Eaton and Sarah Bachmann for their continued support.
Dr. Tsimafeyeu was Chief Executive Officer (2011–2019), Russian Society of Clinical Oncology and the recipient of several ASCO grants and awards, including the International Development and Education Award in 2008 and a Merit Award in 2016.
The Impossible Becomes Possible
Marina Chernykh, MD, PhD
The International Palliative Care Workshop (IPCW) was extremely unexpected for me. Despite the fact that I had the great honor to be on the Scientific Committee of this event, I received incredibly important information every day and every minute for all 3 days, which subsequently, in a very short time, became absolutely necessary in my daily practice.
There are many patients who need palliative care in my center; however, oncologists do not always have the working skills to provide it quickly and correctly. In the case of bone pain, we developed the emergency fraction therapy program “Fraction of Hope,” which is carried out on the day of treatment in order to stop the pain syndrome as quickly as possible. The program has been functioning for 1.5 years; more than 200 patients have been treated. However, we have very little knowledge of systemic pain treatment, which is extremely important for this very difficult category of patients. It is even more important to receive treatment in a short time in the clinic where the anticancer therapy is taking place. It always seemed very difficult to organize.
Thanks to the knowledge gained in Vladivostok and the support of colleagues, the impossible became possible—a new center, “Against Pain,” will be opened in our clinic very soon, where patients will be able to meet a palliative care specialist and, more importantly, to receive pain management according to international guidelines. Dreams came true after this wonderful workshop. We appreciate the opportunity for us and our patients.
Dr. Chernykh is an IPCW Russian faculty member; Director, Radiological Center of the Moscow Region, Podolsk, Moscow Region.
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