Advances in Immune Checkpoint Blockade Headlining Plenary

Allison Shelley

May 31, 2015


CHICAGO — Investigators from around the world will take the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting's biggest stage this afternoon to present the latest in cutting-edge cancer research.

Dr Alan Venook

Alan Venook, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco will chair the plenary, along with Peter Paul Yu, MD, from Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California.

Discussions on immune checkpoint blockade in cancer will kick off the session with James Patrick Allison, PhD, the science of oncology award lecturer from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, presenting new insights, opportunities, and prospects for a cure.

Jedd Wolchok, MD, from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, will present CheckMate, a comparison of immune checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma.

"We're very encouraged that the initial observations about the efficacy of this combination held up in this large phase 3 trial," Dr. Wolchok said in an early-morning statement to reporters. "Our study also suggests that patients with a specific tumor marker appear to benefit the most from the combination treatment, whereas other patients may do just as well with nivolumab alone."

Childhood Cancer Survivor Report

Gregory Armstrong, MD, from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will present a report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study showing a reduction in late mortality among 5-year survivors of childhood cancer.

"Fifty years ago, only one in five children would survive cancer, and today, over 80% are alive 5 years after diagnosis," Dr. Armstrong told reporters. "Yet these survivors still grow up with increased risk of dying from late effects, like heart disease and second cancers. Now, we've not only helped more children survive their primary cancer, but we've also extended their overall lifespan by reducing the overall toxicity of treatment."

Optimal Timing of Surgery in Oral Cancer

Anil D'Cruz, MBBS, from the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai, India, will present results from a randomized controlled phase 3 study showing that preventive neck lymph node surgery resulted in a 37% reduction in risk for death compared with surgery after relapse.

"Our study is the first to conclusively prove that more lives can be saved with elective neck dissection," Dr. D'Cruz told reporters.

Adding neck surgery to initial treatment is worthwhile, he said, and these results help establish preventive surgery as the standard of care in this disease, he suggested.

New data on whole-brain radiation will also be presented at plenary.

Shift in Whole-Brain Radiation Practice

A phase 3 randomized trial shows that the risks for adjuvant whole-brain radiation therapy outweigh benefits for patients with limited brain metastases.

"We used to offer whole-brain radiation early on, but we now know that the toxicities of this therapy are worse for the patient than cancer growth or recurrences in the brain," senior investigator Jan Buckner, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said in a statement. "We expect that practice will shift to reserve the use of whole-brain radiation therapy for salvage treatment and end-stage palliative care," she explained.

The Medscape Oncology news and features team will be attending the plenary this afternoon and will have the latest news and perspectives from presenters and attendees at the conference.


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