Q&A with Eric Roeland, MD, FAAHPM
October 2nd, 2020
Eric Roeland, MD, FAAHPM is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Eric is also a faculty member for Palliative Care Education and Practice and Practical Aspects of Palliative Care.
Tell us about your area of expertise. What drew you to this?
My clinical interest and expertise focus on the optimal palliation of symptoms for patients with cancer. Ensuring that patients feel as good as possible while undergoing cancer therapy improves our ability to effectively treat cancer while simultaneously maximizing quality of life. I personally find incredible fulfillment when medical interventions can improve uncontrolled symptoms (e.g., pain, nausea, neuropathy, dyspnea, constipation, diarrhea) and allow patients to actively engage in activities and relationships that matter most in life.
What would you like the public to know about your work?
I would like patients and caregivers to know that they do not need to suffer in silence. They should know that there are effective interventions to improve many symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment. Within oncology and palliative care, there are clinical investigators dedicated to identifying, validating, and expanding the number of medical interventions to minimize suffering. We know this work is incredibly important because patients who feel better, do better and live longer.
Are there any recent publications you'd like to highlight?
Recently, I was part of a multidisciplinary group of investigators who completed an analysis regarding evidence-based interventions to treat cancer cachexia. Sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), these are the first published clinical guidelines in the treatment of cancer cachexia. Cancer cachexia is different that weight loss alone. It is a multifactorial syndrome that leads to increased treatment-related toxicity, loss of appetite, weight and muscle loss, decreased physical function, impaired quality of life, and caregiver distress. I am proud of this work as it draws needed attention to a cancer-related syndrome that impacts over 80% of patients with advanced cancer. This guideline is an important step in summarizing the existing data regarding cancer cachexia interventions so that patients receive treatments that are most likely to help.
What is the best advice you have received?
Never blame anyone in your life.
Good people bring you happiness.
Bad people bring you experience.
The worst people bring you lessons.
And the best people bring you memories.
In your spare time, what do you do for fun?
In my spare time, I spend time with my wife and kids enjoying the outdoors.