Precision medicine has the power to change the future of cancer care. The term garnered fame when President Obama announced the Precision Medicine initiative in January 2015.
“Doctors have always recognized that every patient is unique, and doctors have always tried to tailor their treatments as best they can to individuals. You can match a blood transfusion to a blood type—that was an important discovery. What if matching a cancer cure to our genetic code was just as easy, just as standard? What if figuring out the right dose of medicine was as simple as taking our temperature?” President Obama noted.
Today, more and more researchers and practitioners are beginning to focus on the individual patient rather than the disease, concentrating more on genetics and molecular diagnostics to discover and treat disease.
As a nod to this forward-thinking initiative, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) will bring together the minds and ideas of thousands of cancer professionals from around the world to share the “collective wisdom” of patient-centered care and research June 3-7, 2016, in Chicago.
To help you get the most out of your own personal ASCO16 experience, OT offers you five conference highlights that promote professional growth, knowledge, and a glance into cancer care of the future.
1. Forward-Thinking Sessions
While precision medicine shines in the forefront of health care, there are other facets of the profession emerging in the field of oncology. Immunotherapy, emerging research on treating the daunting areas of brain and pancreatic cancer, and advances in improving quality and patient care access. Following are a list of abstracts being showcased at the ASCO annual meeting to provide you with the latest advancements in these areas.
New Approaches With Classic Cancer Therapies
- A phase III study comparing the safety and efficacy of a trastuzumab biosimilar (Myl-1401O) to trastuzumab in women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (Abstract LBA503).
- Early survival data from a phase III trial of adjuvant temozolomide in patients with anaplastic glioma, a rare type of brain cancer (Abstract LBA2000).
- Results from a phase II study of the antibody-drug conjugate IMMU-132—which includes a metabolite of the conventional chemotherapy irinotecan—for treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (Abstract LBA509).
- Results of next-generation sequencing of circulating tumor DNA (liquid biopsies) from 15,000 patients with advanced cancers, as compared to traditional tissue biopsy (Abstract LBA11501).
- Findings from a phase II umbrella basket trial that matched select targeted therapies to the molecular abnormalities in advanced, incurable solid tumors outside of current indications (Abstract LBA11511).
- A direct-to-patient initiative to collect biological specimens and clinical data to accelerate breast cancer genomics research (Abstract LBA1519).
ASCO's Plenary Session
- A placebo-controlled phase III trial that explores extending aromatase inhibitor therapy to 10 years for postmenopausal women with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer (Abstract LBA1). Data from a related abstract on patient-reported quality of life outcomes from this same trial (Abstract LBA506) will also be presented.
- Results from a phase III trial adding temozolomide to short-course radiotherapy in elderly patients with the most common form of brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma (Abstract LBA2).
- A phase III trial exploring tandem vs. single autologous stem cell transplant as consolidation therapy for children with high-risk neuroblastoma (Abstract LBA3).
- Findings from a phase III trial adding novel immunotherapy daratumumab to bortezomib and dexamethasone for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (Abstract LBA4).
- Results from a phase II study investigating the PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab as first-line therapy for patients with advanced bladder cancer who cannot safely undergo standard therapy (Abstract LBA4500).
- A randomized phase II trial of a first-in-class anti-claudin18.2 antibody in combination with chemotherapy as initial treatment for advanced gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers (Abstract LBA4001).
- A phase I/II study investigating the safety and efficacy of antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine, which combines a novel targeted drug (anti-DLL3 antibody) with a toxin, for the treatment of recurrent or refractory small cell lung cancer (Abstract LBA8505).
- A phase I study treating patients with advanced lymphoma with anti-CD19 CAR T cells, preceded by low-dose chemotherapy (Abstract LBA3010).
Improving Quality & Access to Care
- A phase III trial exploring whether using a mobile device-friendly web application for symptom monitoring improves survival of patients with lung cancer (Abstract LBA9006).
- A large analysis examining use of aggressive medical care and hospice for patients younger than age 65 in the last 30 days of life (Abstract LBA10033).
- A study exploring racial disparities in receipt of breast and ovarian cancer risk-reducing procedures among younger breast cancer survivors with BRCA mutations (Abstract LBA1504).
2. Networking Opportunities
An integral part of any conference involves meeting professionals from around the world and exchanging insight and experiences. ASCO offers a variety of educational sessions and interactive events where individuals can engage in learning together.
With 130 education sessions and 115 science sessions available to attend, there is an abundance of opportunities for meeting practitioners and researchers working in your own cancer specialty. Even before the event officially begins, pre-annual meeting seminars and case-based courses invite you to start your ASCO experience early. Want to learn more about recently approved oncology drugs? Join your colleagues on Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3, for the New Drugs in Oncology Seminar that offers the latest drug information on mechanisms of action, administration, toxicity and side-effect management, and use in the clinic.
A plethora of other learning opportunities include Meet the Professor Sessions, where you can engage with experts in a more one-on-one environment; Oral Abstract Session, where professionals present oral findings of their work; Poster Sessions, highlighting pertinent studies in the field; and Clinical Science Symposia, where experts discuss the science of oncology and how it relates specifically to the clinical environment.
Beyond the classroom environment, ASCO offers opportunities for members to meet other professionals in a variety of ways. The Find a Colleague directory, Networking Cafes, and Poster Discussion Networking are all opportunities to reach out to other associates. The Women's Networking Center offers female attendees with an on-site venue to connect with other women professionals in the field. Here, sessions offered include Work-Life Balance for Women, Salary Disparities and Negotiation for the XX Gender, and more.
And one of the biggest areas, literally, to network at the show: the Oncology Professionals Hall.
3. Oncology Professionals Hall
An important part of advancing your professional knowledge includes learning about the most advanced treatments, products, and services in oncology. In the Oncology Professionals Hall, attendees can converse face-to-face with representatives from the health care industry, including pharmaceutical companies, scientific publishers, and advocacy groups. Want to see how the latest electronic medical record works? Visit industry experts to explore new technologies and programs that could advance your own professional practice. ASCO also offers an Oncology Career Fair where you can discover new employment opportunities that will allow you to advance your own career.
While exploring the exhibit hall, you will also get an opportunity to meet the greatest oncology visionaries in the profession. For instance, at the Oncology Times booth (#21125), attendees will get a chance to meet George W. Sledge, Jr., MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Oncology at Stanford University, and OT's Editorial Board Chair. He is world-renowned for his research and study of breast cancer treatments, and has directed the first large, nationwide study on the use of paclitaxel to treat advanced breast cancer. On Saturday, June 3 at 2 p.m., take a moment out of your busy day, bring your cameras, and have some fun during the Selfies With Sledge event. Snap a photo with Sledge and share it on Facebook and Twitter (#OncologyTimes, #ASCO16). Enjoy this unique event to meet and talk with one of the leaders in oncology care.
4. ASCO Special Awards
Researchers, patient advocates, and global oncology community leaders dedicated to enhancing cancer prevention, treatment, and patient care will be honored at the conference with ASCO's highest honor, its Special Awards, during the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in June. Among this year's awardees are a lung cancer luminary who introduced innovative new therapies for its treatment and prevention, and a pivotal pioneer in breast cancer research whose work has improved the quality of life for millions of people with the disease.
“The exceptional accomplishments of each of our awardees reflect their exemplary dedication to furthering cancer research and serving as a beacon of hope to the cancer community,” said Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO, Immediate Past President of ASCO and Chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee. “It is our honor to recognize their enduring contributions with ASCO's most prestigious awards.”
Highlights of the 2016 Special Awards Honorees include the following.
David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture
First presented in 1970, the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture honors Dr. Karnofsky by recognizing an oncologist who has made outstanding contributions to cancer research, diagnosis and/or treatment.
Paul A. Bunn Jr., MD, is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and the James Dudley Endowed Professor of Lung Cancer at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is the principal investigator of the SPORE in Lung Cancer grant at the University of Colorado, which aims to support translational research in lung cancer. Bunn has dedicated his career to identifying novel diagnostics and treatment strategies for lung cancer and improving the outcomes of patients with lung cancer. Bunn is also a member of the OT Editorial Board.
Science of Oncology Award and Lecture
Created in 2005, the Science of Oncology Award and Lecture is presented annually in recognition of a recipient's outstanding contributions to basic or translational research in cancer.
William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, is a Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, and a senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Kaelin has dedicated years of research to understanding how mutations in tumor-suppressor genes affect cancer development. His work on the VHL protein was instrumental for the subsequent successful development of VEGF inhibitors to treat kidney cancer.
ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture
First presented in 1993, the ASCO-ACS Award and Lecture recognizes significant contributions to cancer prevention and control research or practice.
Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD, is the Provost and Executive Vice President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is being recognized for his groundbreaking work in retinoid differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia.
B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology
Created in 2007 in honor of B.J. Kennedy, MD, this award and lectureship recognizes an ASCO member who has made outstanding contributions to the research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the elderly, and to the understanding of geriatric oncology among fellows and junior faculty.
Pierre Soubeyran, MD, PhD, has dedicated his career to helping older patients with cancer. From designing trials for non-Hodgkin lymphoma to implementing screening methods, Soubeyran has championed the care of older patients in the United States and in his home country of France. His work has been critical to the development of geriatric oncology at both the clinical and research levels.
Distinguished Achievement Award
Created in 2009, the Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes leadership or mentorship by a scientist, practitioner or researcher in any subspecialty of oncology that has benefited ASCO members and/or their patients.
David H. Johnson, MD, is Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Johnson has had a decades-long career in internal medicine and oncology, and he currently mentors the next generation of physicians at UT so that they are able to make a profound impact in medicine.
Excellence in Teaching Award
First awarded in 2014, the Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes an ASCO member who has had a demonstrable impact on their trainees and who has inspired and shaped trainees' practice of cancer medicine.
Philip C. Hoffman, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. He was one of the original Masters of the Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators at Pritzker and has been honored as a favorite faculty member 25 times by graduating medical students.
Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture
First presented in 2007 and named in honor of cancer research pioneer Gianni Bonadonna, this award recognizes an active clinical and/or translational researcher with a distinguished record of accomplishments in advancing the field of breast cancer and with exceptional mentoring abilities.
C. Kent Osborne, MD, is a Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Director of the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine. His research on hormone pathways involved in breast cancer has been instrumental in identifying fulvestrant as the most potent endocrine therapy. His pioneering research on the mechanisms of resistance to targeted endocrine therapies has greatly affected the lives of many patients with breast cancer.
First presented in 2011, the Humanitarian Award recognizes an oncologist who personifies ASCO's mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care through innovative means or exceptional service or leadership.
Quyen Chu, MD, MBA, FACS, is Chief of Surgical Oncology and the Charles Knight, Sr. Endowed Professor of Surgery at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. His simple but profound belief that proper treatment for all patients with cancer will produce similar outcomes of care has led Chu to countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, and Nicaragua in hopes of improving cancer care for patients in low-income countries.
Partners in Progress Award
First awarded in 2003, the Partners in Progress Award recognizes a person involved in patient advocacy activities that have increased public awareness about cancer, its causes, cures, or treatment, or activities that result in additional support either legislatively or fiscally for cancer research, treatment, prevention or care.
Susan G. Braun, MA, FASCO, is Chief Executive Officer of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. She is being recognized for her service in leadership roles at several major cancer nonprofit organizations throughout the past 20 years.
Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture
First presented in 2002, the Pediatric Oncology Award recognizes the career and achievements of an individual who has contributed outstanding laboratory, clinical, or epidemiologic scientific work of major importance to the field of pediatric oncology.
Susan L. Cohn, MD, is a Pediatric Oncologist in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Chicago who is passionate about improving outcomes for children with cancer, especially patients with neuroblastoma. She is being recognized for her leadership in the development of a series of risk-based clinical trials to improve treatment for low- and intermediate-risk neuroblastoma and survival for high-risk patients.
Special Recognition Award
Created in 1992, the Special Recognition Award honors an individual whose research and innovations have had a transforming and lasting effect in the areas of clinical oncology, cancer research, clinical trials, or patient advocacy activities or who has demonstrated outstanding long-term service to ASCO and/or to clinical oncology.
Waun Ki Hong, MD, FACP, DMSc (Hon), is a pioneer in oncology, advocating for chemoprevention of epithelial cancers and emphasizing the importance of personalized cancer therapy. Hong's expertise spans more than 36 years of translational and clinical research. His recent achievements include the development of biopsy-mandated, personalized, targeted therapy for lung cancer based on genetic abnormalities in tumor tissue.
Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO)
The Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) distinction recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. Their efforts benefit ASCO, the specialty of oncology, and, most importantly, patients with cancer. The 2016 recipients of this distinction are:
Ethan M. Basch, MD, MSc
Susan L. Cohn, MD
Mary L. Disis, MD
Gini F. Fleming, MD
Jennifer J. Griggs, MD, MPH
Dawn L. Hershman, MD
Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP
Joseph O. Jacobson, MD
Rogerio Lilenbaum, MD
David R. Spriggs, MD
Alan P. Venook, MD
Victor G. Vogel, MD, MHS
Sandra L. Wong, MD, MS
5. It's All in the Planning
To get the most out of this year's ASCO conference, take some time to plan what you will attend and prioritize what you want to accomplish at the show. ASCO offers the iPlanner that guides you in browsing abstract titles, searching for sessions, or creating a customized schedule. You can access it at https://iplanner.asco.org/am2016/#/.
In addition, become familiar with the different events taking place, which sessions require pre-registration/tickets, and the best way to navigate the convention center. There are thousands of professionals attending ASCO16, all with a shared goal of advancing the field of oncology care and research. Together, all attendees, speakers, and industry experts can collaboratively explore new directions for their patients.