Onc Daily: Immunotherapy Boost/Bust,
Practical Pandemic Tips

Nick Mulcahy

April 29, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's  Coronavirus Resource Center.

Here are the most important stories that Medscape Oncology's editors picked for you to read today:

Immunotherapy Combos Boost and Bust

New combination treatments featuring immune checkpoint inhibitors and other agents aimed at treating solid tumors, which have been largely resistant to this approach, are among the highlights from the American Association for Cancer Research 2020 annual meeting, held virtually this year after it was canceled because of COVID-19.

In women with high-risk, HER2-negative breast cancer, the combination of durvalumab (Imfinzi, AstraZeneca) and the PARP inhibitor olaparib (Lynparza, AstraZeneca) was added on to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The trifecta produced significantly higher estimated pathologic complete response (pCR) rates at the time of surgery vs chemotherapy alone.

However, adding immunotherapy to standard treatment in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer was a different story. The phase 3 trial looked at adding atezolizumab (Tecentriq, Genentech) to standard treatment to the androgen receptor inhibitor enzalutamide (Xtandi, Astellas), compared with enzalutamide alone.

Immunotherapies are powerful agents, and can produce immune-related adverse events that need treatment to be stopped. For these patients, can therapy be resumed? The largest "rechallenge" study to date looks at more than 6000 cases of restarting these cancer therapies and related outcomes.

Practical Tips on Cancer Care During the Pandemic

Mark Kris, MD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, continues to see patients with cancer while at the epicenter of the pandemic. Those circumstances have yielded a number of insights about running a clinic in difficult times.

Latest Strides in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Medscape TV has launched the second episode of a series on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In "Neoadjuvant Advances," experts discuss standard therapy for early TNBC, a newly approved neoadjuvant immunotherapy regimen, and the option to de-escalate therapy in select patients.

Cancer Increases Risks From COVID-19 

Cancer may double the risk for serious illness and death with COVID-19, according to an observational study of 150 Chinese patients with cancer published in Cancer Discovery. If the findings are confirmed in additional studies, cancer could join heart disease and diabetes as underlying conditions that pose the greatest risk with COVID-19, say the authors.

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