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Supportive care in cancer—a MASCC perspective


The term ‘supportive care’ arose from the medical oncology literature predominantly in the context of managing the toxicities of cancer treatment but embraces all symptom management through treatment and survivorship. Supportive care should be patient-centred with good communication which includes family and carers and applies across the cancer experience from diagnosis, treatment, survivorship to end of life care. Supportive care encompasses physical and functional, psychological, social and spiritual well-being to improve the quality of life. Supportive care must be evidence-based and thus further research is essential. Supportive care requires screening for some symptoms and tools for patients to report their outcomes. Supportive care has to accommodate new physical toxicities, emotional distress as well as financial toxicity. Supportive care is often delivered by medical oncologists but any organ-related specialist, geriatrician, palliative care clinician, pain specialist, nutritionist, psycho-oncologist, social worker, physiotherapist, nurse or allied health worker who is required to relieve a patient’s symptoms or side effects may be involved in a multidisciplinary way. The field is evolving to embrace technology such as eHealth and mHealth capabilities which will enhance integrated care.

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All authors contributed to the study concept and the writing of the manuscript. The first draft was completed by Olver and all authors contributed to revisions. All authors have approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ian Olver.

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Olver, I., Keefe, D., Herrstedt, J. et al. Supportive care in cancer—a MASCC perspective. Support Care Cancer 28, 3467–3475 (2020).

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  • Supportive care
  • Cancer
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment toxicity
  • Quality of life