Newsletter for the Sapporo Conference in Japan for Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer (SCPSC)

The History of the Conference

The Sapporo Conference for Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer (SCPSC) was first held in in Sapporo, Japan in 2014. Subsequently, the 2nd conference was held in 2017, with the 3rd/4th Joint SCPSC successfully held from April 27-29, 2023, after overcoming a number of delays resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details of the conference can be found at the following links:
Sapporo: History of a conference (Published 2023/9/5)
Synopsis of a conference that nearly never happened – The 2023 Sapporo Conference for Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer (SCPSC) in Japan  (Published 2023/9/12)

After the Conference

Following the joint conference in 2023, the SCPSC Board held discussions regarding the future direction on the SCPSC. A number of suggestions were made related to the reorganization of the conference to fit a more conventional medical conference structure. On the other hand, it was also that emphasized that this unique conference should continue in its current format in which cutting-edge discussions can take place among world-class researchers in a non-competitive environment. Dr. David Hui of the MD Anderson Cancer Center aptly described the current format as the “palliative care Olympics,” and the majority of members agreed with this latter opinion, with much smiling and nodding in agreement. These discussions highlighted a desire to expand the Board through the addition of members from around the globe and to issue a newsletter, and both of these objectives have been met.

The first issue of the newsletter was published in September. As part of the production process, we referred to a number of newsletters from renowned international conferences, working towards the goal of delivering it in HTML format in September. We also received valuable assistance from a number of experts, and were able to successfully achieve our objectives

In the newsletter, we added a ‘History’ section in addition to ‘latest news’ and ‘Member’s news’ sections. Our purpose in creating the ‘History’ section was to add the readers’ enjoyment. So far, the newsletter has been distributed to approximately 2,000 participants from the previous three conferences. We were pleased to receive a good deal of positive feedback from many readers of the first issue of the newsletter, with some describing it as a “thoughtful newsletter reflecting the philosophy of SCPSC.” Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback.

In the second issue, we noted that Dr. Declan Walsh, the Editor-in-Chief of BMJ SPCare, was honored with The Walther Cancer Foundation Supportive Oncology Award at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting:

Additionally, the selection of Dr. Camilla Zimmermann as an associate editor for JCO was also included as significant news. It is now well-recognized that the integration of standard oncology and palliative care is becoming more universal, and we would like to think that these two news items symbolize that trend.

Moving Forward

Since August this year, many new directors have been appointed to the SCPSC Board. We plan to provide introductions to these individuals in the upcoming issues of the newsletter. Our expectations are high that these new directors will bring a fresh perspective to the SCPSC in the future.

Dr. Kunihiko Ishitani, the President of the SCPSC, has stated that “palliative care is currently at a turning point.” This turning point can be summarized as follows.

One aspect is that the field of palliative care is diverging into disease-specific palliative care and disease non-specific palliative care, commonly known as end-of-life care for all diseases. The choice between these options is determined by the philosophy of the facility and the conditions faced within each individual country.

Another aspect is that a paradigm shift, as described by Thomas S. Kuhn, is occurring in palliative care. There is a growing recognition of the need for foundational research in palliative care as an academic discipline. In the natural sciences-related element of palliative care, the challenge lies in biological research, particularly in our understanding of the biological mechanisms of various symptoms and exploring corresponding treatments. Further, in the humanities-related element of palliative care, there is a growing awareness that previous humanities-based discussions of palliative care, focused on aspects such as communication skills and advance care planning (ACP), are now becoming concentrated into issues related to euthanasia. Furthermore, research on the transition from active treatment to palliative care using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for decision-making is gaining attention as one of the turning points in palliative care.

Programs with a focus on these aspects were provided in the 3rd/4th Joint SCPSC in 2024. The 5th SCPSC planned for 2026 is expected to give prominence to further turning points in palliative care, and we intend to provide details on these developments in the SCPSC newsletter as they unfold.

In the future, we plan to publish the newsletter four times a year, with regular Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter issues. We hope that the newsletter will eventually become a bridge between the SCPSC and the readers.

Inquiries regarding the newsletter should be addressed as shown below:

Newsletter: IRS-SCPSC News Letter

The Sapporo Meigi-Association

The Sapporo Meigi-Association

Meigi are traditional female performers who sing, dance and play at banquets to add to the enjoyment of guests. They are commonly known as “Gaisha”.


Photo of Yukie Ishitani

Yukie Ishitani (Web Designer)
Publicist Relation Section
Higashi Sapporo Hospital

Declaration of interests

I have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: none.

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