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国立がん研究センター 中央病院

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Appearance Support Center

Shoko Toma, Keiko Nozawa, Naoya Yamazaki (Joint appointment in the Department of Dermatologic Oncology), Emi Noguchi (Joint appointment in the Department of Breast and Medical Oncology), Masao Arikawa (Joint appointment in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery), Masako Imai


The Appearance Support Center aims to support patients’ ability to live in society and live as humans through clinical research and educational practices regarding patients’ physical appearance.

The Team and What We Do

Regarding clinical activities, our team comprises two clinical psychologists (one full-time and one part time) specialized in cosmetics, whom both in- and outpatients and their families consult for questions and concerns regarding physical appearance. Example issues include the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on skin, nails and hair and scarring and epithesis from breast and other surgeries. To expand our practice beyond consultation alone, we are currently developing a new team in collaboration with a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, medical oncologist, pharmacist and nurses.

The outpatient space is open from Monday to Thursday between 12 am and 1 pm, during which time patients can freely try on different products and consult staff. Despite the limited hours for security reasons, we had 624 patients. We also conduct a patient program every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 pm, the main aim of which is to provide patients with medical information through group sessions. We had 69 group sessions in which 178 patients participated.

In 2021, as in the previous year, the patient program continued with a capacity of 4 patients due to COVID-19 infection prevention measures. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of participants and sessions compared to the previous year.

The total number of new patients for individual consultations was 493 for both outpatients and wards, and the total number of interventions was 2,250. From the perspective of preventing COVID-19 infections, individual consultations have increased due to not having them in the same room with others. In addition, the continued prohibition of visits, outings, and overnight stays has led to increased interventions with long-term hospitalized patients for stress relief purposes. There were also consultations on concerns over formal events such as shichi-go-san, graduation and entrance ceremonies. Preoperative and postoperative consultations for head and neck cancer patients were conducted at the Patient Support Center on the 8th floor, mainly in collaboration with the Perioperative Outpatient Clinic.

As a new trial, “Appearance Care Course for Workers” started in January 2022 as a monthly online course. This course is specifically designed for working people and provides medical information on how to take care of one's appearance and how to communicate with others. The start time for the sessions was set to be 6:00 p.m. in the evening to avoid taking time off work for anything other than treatment.

Research activities

1) Since 2020, we have been conducting research activities with a focus on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Comprehensive Plan to Promote Cancer Control Program, funded by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s “Research contributing to the implementation of high-quality appearance care for cancer patients.” We will continue to do so until 2022.

2) In the activities of the MHLW group, we worked on revising the “Guide to Appearance Care for Cancer Patients 2016” into the “Appearance Guidelines for Cancer Treatment,” which was published in the fall of 2021 as an edition from the Japanese Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (JASCC). In addition, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of a “Basic Education Program on Appearance Care for E-Learning” for medical professionals.


With regard to the annual “Educational Workshop on Appearance Care of Cancer Patients” for medical personnel at cancer treatment hub hospitals, in light of the spread of COVID-19 infection, the basic course was cancelled and only the advanced course was held online. In addition, lectures were given to trainees of this hospital and observation guidance to medical students, and lectures to residents of the Department of Palliative Medicine were given on a monthly basis.

Future Prospects

The “Third Basic Plan to Promote Cancer Control Program” addresses the issue of appearance with the aim of further improving the quality of life of cancer patients. It clearly states that appearance support training will be considered, and we hope to continue to build this new field on a research basis.


Sponsor: Appearance Support Center (NCC Hospital)

Conference title: The Educational Workshop on Appearance Care of Cancer Patients for Medical Staff: Advanced Course

Date: November 6th, 2021

Location: Tokyo (held online)