BMJ SPC Forum, in partnership with the International Research Society of the Sapporo Conference, Japan, co-publishes the seasonal Newsletter

The following is from the Spring issue of the International Research Society of the Sapporo Conference for Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer Newsletter that was published in April 2024 for IRS-SCPSC members. To view the full newsletter, please click this IRS-SCPSC Newsletter Spring 2024

Message from the President

Photo of SCPSC President

Kunihiko Ishitani
President of The International Research Society of the SCPSC
President, Higashi Sapporo Hospital

5th International Research Society of the Sapporo Conference for Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer (IRS-SCPSC) 2026

One year has now passed since the successful conclusion of the 3rd/4th Joint IRS-SCPSC, held in April 2023. The 5th IRS-SCPSC is scheduled for July 10-11, 2026, two years from now, which had felt like a long way off. However, we are now exchanging emails with many board members and related parties on a daily basis as part of the preparations and program planning. When inviting renowned researchers from outside Japan to give a lecture, it is natural that their schedules are fixed a year in advance, so it is necessary to send such invitations as early as possible. From the end of last year, our steering committee and the principal directors have been formulating the basic concept for the 5th IRS-SCPSC. The 5th IRS-SCPSC will be held over two days, with four symposiums, several plenary sessions, and an educational general presentation section. The theme of the 1st symposium will be basic biological research on opioids and clinical practice based on that research. That of the 2nd symposium is the current status and future possibilities of palliative cancer therapy, with the 3rdsymposium exploring novel themes in psycho-oncology, such as “Is post-Freudian psychoanalysis useful for palliative care?” The 4th symposium is being planned to further discuss the essential issues related, to the current situation in which an increasing number of countries are legalizing euthanasia. The symposium on opioids is planned with Dr. Russell Portenoy and Dr. David Hui as chairs and has already been completed. It consists of six lectures in two parts; 1) Emerging science of opioid response and 2) Clinical update on the use of opioids for cancer pain, followed by a discussion. We are now approaching a point at which we can gradually introduce the other programs. We hope that more people than ever will participate in the 5th SCPSC, which will be held from July 10-11, 2026.

Welcoming our latest addition to the Board of Directors

Dr. Philip Larkin
Full Professor
Chair of Palliative Care Nursing
Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne Switzerland

Member’s News

  • A member of the SCPSC Senior Advisory Board Dr.Friedrich Stiefel, Professor of Medicine at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, has been appointed President of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine  (EAPM), which will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, from 12-15 June this year. Wishing the Congress success!
  • January 29, 2024. The Winter issue of the SCPSC Newsletter was published on the BMJSPCare Blog. BMJ SPCare (Please click)

“Memorable Meaningful Moments with Dr. Kunihiko Ishitani”
Question: What is truer than the truth?
Answer: The story.” – The Talmud, 500 AD

Photo of William Breitbart

William Breitbart M.D.
Jimmie C Holland Chair in Psychiatric Oncology
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, USA
President Emeritus, International Psycho-oncology Society Editor in Chief, Palliative & Supportive Care (Cambridge University Press)

The Story
I am extremely grateful to be able to share a few meaningful and memorable moments I have shared over the past 35 years with my colleague, teacher and friend, Dr.Kunihiko Ishitani. The story does begin in Sapporo, in 1990, during the Sapporo Snow Festival with the amazing snow and ice sculptures decorating the city. I was a young Psychiatric-Oncologist/ Psycho-oncologist who had just completed my fellowship at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center- MSK (from 1984-1986), having been mentored by two pioneers: Jimmie Holland, MD- who founded the field of Psycho-oncology, and Kathleen Foley, MD- who founded the field of Cancer Pain management and American Palliative Medicine. I had been a young Attending Psychiatrist for about 4 years, when my mentors, Dr. Holland and Foley suggested to Dr. Kunihiko Ishitani, that I would be an appropriate speaker at a conference he and his group were planning in Sapporo. I quickly searched for information and discovered that Dr. Ishitani had founded the Higashi Sapporo Hospital in 1983 (just a year before my fellowship at MSK- where Dr. Russell Portenoy and I were fellowship classmates) which was this unique 243 bed hospital specifically for advanced cancer patients that also contained a 58-bed palliative care unit.  In Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan. I was amazed at this pioneering achievement. Who was this Kunihiko Ishitani? And how could he have become this visionary, pioneering clinician and, as I came to learn over many decades, this extraordinary “Humanist.”

Within months, after Dr. Ishitani’ s generous invitation, I found myself flying to Japan, with my beautiful wife Rachel (my secret weapon). We were off to Sapporo where I would be a speaker, along with Dr. Frank Brescia from Calvary Hospital, to speak at the 1990 4th Sapporo Winter Cancer Seminar on “Cancer and QOL”, featuring Dr. William Breitbart and Dr. Frank Brescia.  The Conference itself was a great success, very well attended, with a comprehensive range of topics covered and lively interaction and discussion with conference attendees. I cannot recall exactly, but I think I talked on Delirium, Depression and Fatigue in cancer patients, as these were the areas of my clinical research and writing. I was an unknown entity to Dr. Ishitani. He had taken the word of his colleagues and friends at MSK and Calvary that I was up to the task of delivering high quality lectures, so I was very pleased when I caught a glimpse of him listening to one of my lectures and smiling and nodding. I was truly relieved and proud that I had met his high standards of quality. (Please continue here IRS-SCPSC Newsletter Spring 2024)


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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