ASCO honors Eduardo Bruera, M.D., with Walther Cancer Foundation Supportive Oncology Award

Award recognizes distinguished leaders who have made a long-lasting impact in palliative and supportive care

Eduardo Bruera, M.D., chair of Palliative Care Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has received the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Walther Cancer Foundation Supportive Oncology Award. Bruera was formally recognized today at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting during the Mentorship and Career Development Roundtable.

The Walther Cancer Foundation Supportive Oncology Award is one of the highest honors presented by ASCO and Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation. Endowed by the Walther Cancer Foundation, a private foundation that supports and promotes interdisciplinary and inter-institutional bench and clinical cancer research, the award and lecture were established to recognize a distinguished lecturer and leader who has made multiple, significant and enduring contributions to palliative and supportive care in oncology through the prevention, assessment and management of cancer- and treatment-related suffering.

“I am honored to receive the award and to have ASCO recognize the importance of clinical and research programs aimed at alleviating the physical and psychosocial suffering associated with cancer,” said Bruera, who holds the F.T. McGraw Chair in the Treatment of Cancer. “We are committed to continuing our efforts to build upon these structures and processes for the benefit of our patients.”

As an internationally renowned leader in the field, Bruera has made innumerable contributions to palliative and supportive care with significant impacts on the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families.

He established the Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson in 1999. Under his leadership, the department has become the largest clinical and academic palliative care program in the world, with an interdisciplinary outpatient Supportive Care Center and both inpatient and outpatient Palliative Care programs. These serve as a model for other institutions, nationally and internationally. The programs’ structures, processes and outcomes are shared with faculty and leaders of cancer centers across the country and have been reported in peer-reviewed journals and scientific meetings, including the ASCO Annual Meeting and ASCO Palliative Care Symposium.

“Dr. Bruera is recognized as an outstanding clinician scientist, a dedicated leader and a passionate educator,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Through his leadership, unwavering commitment and pioneering work, his profound contributions have increased the visibility and integration of palliative care into oncology care on a local, national and international level. We are proud that he is receiving this prestigious recognition by ASCO.”

Throughout the course of Bruera’s distinguished career, he has pioneered practice-changing discoveries that have transformed the delivery of modern palliative care and helped to alleviate suffering for patients affected by cancer.

He developed methodologies and conducted research studies instrumental in establishing routine clinical practices in supportive and palliative care — including patient-reported outcomes measurement, methylphenidate for opioid sedation and fatigue, opioid rotation and methadone for refractory pain. In addition, he established strategies for corticosteroids for fatigue and symptom control, assessment and management of delirium, opioids and oxygen for dyspnea, and the screening and management of chemical coping and opioid use disorders in cancer patients.

Bruera led numerous research studies aimed at improving the quality of life for cancer patients. He developed and validated the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) decades before patient-reported outcome measurements became fully accepted. The ESAS is designed to assist in the assessment of nine symptoms common in cancer patients and provides a clinical profile of symptom severity over time. The tool has been translated into 60 languages and is currently the most commonly used tool for symptom assessment of palliative care and cancer patients worldwide. Bruera made ESAS available free of charge for anyone to use.

Bruera has authored more than 1,075 papers in top peer-reviewed journals, such as The Lancet, Lancet Oncology, JAMAJAMA Oncology, JAMA Internal Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer, as well as co-authored “Dying in America.” Bruera is a frequently invited speaker at national and international scientific conferences, and he has delivered over 900 invited lectures to major cancer centers and supportive and palliative care congresses.