More than 32,000 oncology professionals from around the world attended the ASCO Annual Meeting in June, presenting and discussing the latest research in cancer treatment and patient care.
Russell Conley, GI Cancer Institute CEO, attended ASCO this year. There were a number of global developments in digestive cancer research, particularly in the areas of pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer.
Notably, ground-breaking research in pancreatic cancer has discovered that a new chemotherapy combination can lengthen the lives of people with pancreatic cancer.
Patients who received this new combination, called mFOLFIRINOX, were cancer-free after surgery for about 9 months longer than those taking the current standard chemotherapy. They also lived for a median average of 19 months longer than those who received the standard treatment. Patients who received mFOLFIRINOX had more severe symptoms, but these were manageable.
Another major development was the PREOPANC-1 trial which found that treatment before surgery can help people with pancreatic cancer live longer. The trial showed that people with pancreatic cancer who received chemoradiotherapy treatment before surgery lived longer than those who did not receive treatment before surgery.
Both of these studies suggest changes to pancreatic cancer treatment that could benefit people and improve their survival outcomes. Pancreatic cancer currently has a five-year survival rate of just 7.7%, so these developments are significant in that they have the potential to become standard treatments in the future, and potentially to raise survival outcomes.
There was also insight into the treatment of colorectal cancer presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting with the results of the PRODIGE 7 study. This revealed that receiving heated abdomen chemotherapy is not helpful for many people with advanced colorectal cancer. This is an important development in the treatment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer, as it shows that they might be able to avoid this potentially unnecessary treatment along with its side effects.
Finally, results have revealed that personalised medicine can improve the survival outcomes for people with advanced cancers that are difficult to treat. The results of the IMPACT study found that people who received a targeted treatment matched to the tumour’s genetic changes, or mutations, were twice as likely to survive more than three years than people who did not. This shift towards personalised medicine based on genetic mutations is an area of great potential, as patients would be able to receive treatments that are as effective as possible.