News Ben Brown | 3 years ago

ASCO 2014: Day 1 Coverage

From May 30 to June 3, more than 30,000 oncologists from across the globe will convene in Chicago, IL, for the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 50th annual meeting. Over the course of the meeting, breakthrough research and results from trials testing new cancer drugs will be presented—much of which could significantly impact how patients receive their care. We’ll be highlighting the biggest news stories from each day, along with expert commentary from physicians at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute attending the conference. Here’s what’s hot right now; and, to keep up with the latest news as it happens, be sure to follow the hashtags #ASCO14 and #LCI on Twitter.

Immunotherapy Changing the Course of Cancer Care

Immunotherapy is getting lots of “buzz” amongst the cancer community as an emerging treatment in which the immune system is programmed to attack tumors. This method presents an entirely different way of treating cancer by targeting the immune system rather than the tumor itself. Dr. Asim Amin, co-director of the immunotherapy program at Levine Cancer Institute, is lead author on a study testing one of these drugs, nivolumab, in combination with the current standard of care, for patients with advanced kidney cancer. Dr. Amin believes that the findings are promising and “validate the idea that immunotherapy drugs signify a breakthrough approach to treating multiple types of cancer.” Nivolumab has already demonstrated success in patients with melanoma and lung cancer, and these new results indicate the early success for the drug in kidney cancer patients as well. Read more

 New Cancer Drugs are Exciting--But Are They Worth the Cost?

 Value and the costs of cancer care are huge topics of conversation at ASCO. While results are promising for newly introduced drugs that target hard-to-treat cancers, the prices of these drugs can be very high, and beg the question: “are they worth it?” Cryamza is one such drug that has been proven to extend the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer who relapsed after chemotherapy. However, the drug only prolonged survival by about six weeks, which is “not that impressive for survival,” said Derek Raghavan, MD, FACC , FACE, president of Levine Cancer Institute. The fact that the drug prolonged survival at all suggests it is worth testing earlier in the course of the disease to see whether those patients fare better, he said. But for people whose lung cancer has returned, he said, "I'd try something else that's cheaper" first. Results testing the effectiveness of two drugs—imbruvica for treating leukemia, and olaparib for treating ovarian cancer—were presented as well. Read more

New Pill Extends Lives of Patients with Leukemia

 A new drug, called Imbruvica, has demonstrated its effectiveness at prolonging the lives of patients diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. Ninety percent of patients with chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL) who took the pill lived for 12 months or longer, while patients receiving infusion treatment (the current standard of care) only survived for eight months. CLL is the most common type of leukemia in adults, and kills more than 4,600 of the 15,000 who are diagnosed every year. “For older patients who cannot tolerate intensive chemotherapy, this pill is a game-changer,” said Saad Usmani, MD, FACP, director of the Plasma Cell Disorders program and director of Clinical Research in Hematologic Malignancies at the Institute. “More research needs to be done testing the long-term effects for this drug for patients who develop resistance to the pill, or who do not respond well to it.” Read more