NIH convenes panel to discuss symptom management in cancer

July 01, 2002

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Program will hold a State-of-the-Science Conference on Symptom Management in Cancer: Pain, Depression, and Fatigue, July 15-17 in the main auditorium of the William H. Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. A news conference at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 17 will conclude the 2½-day meeting.

While research is producing increasingly hopeful insights into the causes and cures of cancer, efforts to manage the side effects of the disease and its treatments have not kept pace. Evidence suggests that pain is frequently under-treated in the oncology setting. An increase in problems with depression and persistent lack of energy has been reported by patients and health care providers as the aggressiveness of therapy has progressed. These symptoms, alone or in clusters, may be perceived and managed differently in diverse populations, including the very young, the elderly, those from low income or educational backgrounds, and those from ethno-culturally diverse groups.

This two-and-a-half-day conference will examine the current state of knowledge regarding the management of pain, depression, and fatigue in individuals with cancer and identify directions for future research. During the first day-and-a-half of the conference, experts will present the latest research findings on cancer symptom management to an independent non-Federal panel. After weighing all of the scientific evidence, the panel will draft a statement addressing the following key questions:The panel will present its draft statement to the public for comment at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 17. Following this public comment session, the panel will release its revised statement at a news conference at 1:00 p.m. and take questions from the media.

An evidence report on this topic, prepared by the New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), will be considered by the panel. EPC evidence reports are comprehensive, systematic reviews and analyses of published scientific evidence. A summary of the Evidence Report on Management of Cancer Symptoms: Pain, Depression, and Fatigue will be available on July 17, 2002, the final day of the conference, at The full report will be available on-line shortly thereafter. In addition, an extensive bibliography developed by the National Library of Medicine will be available prior to the conference at

The consensus statement is the report of an independent panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the federal government. The NIH Consensus Development Program was established in 1977 to resolve in an unbiased manner controversial topics in medicine. To date, NIH has conducted 115 Consensus Development Conferences, and 21 State-of-the-Science (formerly "Technology Assessment") Conferences addressing a wide range of medical issues of importance to health care providers, patients, and the general public.

The primary sponsors of this meeting are the National Cancer Institute and the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research. Cosponsors are the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Additional information about this conference, including the meeting agenda and directions to NIH, is available at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site at If you are attending the conference or press conference, please be aware of potential delays due to increased security at the NIH campus and plan accordingly. Parking is extremely limited, and vehicles as well as personal belongings are subject to search upon entrance to campus and/or facilities. More information about security procedures is available at

Note to TV Editors: The news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 will be broadcast live via satellite on the following coordinates:

Galaxy 3 R Transponder 5
Downlink Frequency: 95 degrees West
Polarity: 3800 Horizontal
Audio: 6.2 / 6.8

Test Time: 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Broadcast: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Note to Radio Editors: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m. July 17, 2002 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

NIH Videocasting will broadcast the conference live on the Internet. Visit the Consensus Development Program homepage - - or go directly to the NIH Videocast Web site - - any day during the conference and look for the link to the conference under "Today's Events."

American Sign Language interpretation will be provided during the conference. If you require special assistance to participate in this event, please contact AIR/Prospect Center at (301) 592-3320, or via e-mail (, at least 48 hours before the conference.

NIH/Office of the Director

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