At the beginning of the month, CCSA Senior Scientist Dr. Beverly Smolich attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference. Below, Dr. Smolich summarizes and gives us highlights from the conference.
ASCO is an annual meeting attended by more than 30,000 physicians, researchers, patient advocates, and industry representatives where new results in the field of cancer treatment and prevention are presented.
News & Tidbits
Immunotherapy drugs designed to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer was one of the most prevalent topics of discussion. New strategies are being explored to combine different immunotherapy drugs or combine immunotherapy with chemotherapy or targeted therapy and reach those patients whose tumors do not respond to single agent immunotherapy treatments, which is still a majority of patients.
Switching topics, one of the plenary abstracts (the top four abstracts of the meeting) presented results from a randomized trial in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor positive early breast cancer, comparing the benefits of extending aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy with letrozole from 5 to 10 years. The study showed that extending AI therapy from 5 to 10 years significantly improved disease-free survival. Further analyses will look at toxicities and quality of life benefits.
Out of the many, many interesting presentations I saw, one of the most intriguing was given by Padmanee Sharma from MD Anderson Cancer Center, who discussed using immune biomarkers as predictors of response to immunotherapy. Her take-home message was that during and following immunotherapy the immune response is dynamic, so a biomarker expression profile that was observed in a pre-treatment biopsy might be different in a post-treatment sample. This has implications for which immunotherapies or targeted treatments one would suggest to a patient upon disease progression, and suggests that, if feasible, obtaining multiple biopsies will help inform which treatments may be most beneficial for patients.