COMMENTARY

British Thoracic Oncology Group: Global Data in a UK Context 

Prof Sanjay Popat

Disclosures

January 31, 2020

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

I'm Sanjay Popat, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and professor at the Institute of Cancer Research.

What have been your event highlights?

It's been a great British Thoracic Oncology Group (BTOG) meeting here in Dublin.

The highlights of this meeting have really been mixing with a multidisciplinary team of the healthcare professionals, and the lay advocates that are really passionate about lung cancer. Getting the whole team together to really look at best practice, to look at what's around the corner, the horizon scanning, to see examples of best practice, to look at the latest data, to decide how that's going to implement our practice when we get back in a multi-disciplined environment is absolutely key, absolutely critical.

You know, when we work, we just don't spend enough time sitting with our colleagues in the different specialties to work out the ins and outs of their latest data and how that impacts on what we do.

How did the chest physicians diagnose lung cancer quicker and better, stage the patients better get the material to the molecular diagnostics laboratory fast, get those specimens turned around quickly, optimally, so that we as the oncologists can make the best decisions in terms of systemic therapy, potentially also radiation, potentially for immunotherapy, in the best manner. And really to get everybody in the same room to discuss all of these matters under the same roof, so that everybody's educated to the same standards, is really the key that BTOG holds.

What have been the takeaways for you this year?

They've been a huge number of takeaways from the BTOG meeting.

I think one of the best is the update that we had from Professor Luis Paz-Ares (University Hospital Doce de Octubre, Madrid), who gave us a really fantastic overview of where we are with systemic therapies in lung cancer.

In the UK, as an oncologist of course, we're aware of what we're testing for in the standardised biomarker panel. And the treatments that are approved for use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Cancer Drugs Fund. However, there's a huge wealth of data out there about key molecular targets coming through. Which other molecular targets we need to think about and genotype for, which are the drugs coming through? How do we use checkpoint inhibitors? How do we combine checkpoint inhibitors? We've had other updates from colleague Stephen Liu from Washington (Georgetown University) was here and he was discussing the newer targets coming. Benjamin Besse from Paris (Gustave Roussy) was here and he was discussing how we integrate checkpoint inhibitors together. Paul Baas (Netherlands Cancer Institute) was talking about the systemic therapies for mesothelioma and how we decide what we're going to use, and which are the newer ones coming through.

It's been a fantastic meeting. And it's been just great to meet all our colleagues, both within the UK and international experts and to have the ability to discuss all of these at the top level.

You and colleagues still go to big events like ESMO (the European Society for Medical Oncology) and ASCO (American Society of Medical Oncology), so why does this have a special place?

Attendance at the big international congresses is still key. And it's absolutely important to be aware of what's going on because this is where we get to hear about the latest data set outputs in contemporaneous time. The key data that underpins a lot of the press releases that we hear about on social media. But what we see in the presentation and the data does not necessarily reflect what we end up doing in the UK, and in whichever nation we're talking about, because we need to put that data in context. So how does that data fit in to what we're doing in the UK? Does it fit in at all? What changes do we need to do to adapt to make that data sit better, to make it implemented, to have it become cost effective?

These are the key issues.

Sometimes you may have a data set that may require two or three different specialties - chest physicians, different ways we do a diagnosis, different ways we handle specimens, - surgeons, different way we approach the patient, peri-operatively, post-operatively, pre-operatively.

It's absolutely critical that we can engage all the different specialties with all the latest data sets that can put this in a UK context.

British Thoracic Oncology Group (BTOG), 18th Annual Conference 2020,  Dublin, 29th to 31st January 2020.

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