ASCO Plenary Highlights Importance of Publicly Funded Research

Kathy D. Miller, MD


May 29, 2020

I would like to highlight a study at this year's virtual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) that might otherwise not catch your attention, even though it's part of the plenary session. We often think of the plenary as highlighting new drugs, new treatments, or major new advances in the field. But I think this study rightly deserves its place in the plenary as well.

The study is known as E2108 and it was coordinated by the ECOG cooperative research group and led by Dr Seema Khan. It asks a critical question: Does early local therapy help patients with breast cancer who present de novo with metastatic disease? Should local therapy to the primary tumor be an important component of their initial treatment?

You may recall that several years ago, a study done in kidney cancer suggested that doing a nephrectomy in the setting of metastatic disease was useful. We now have data from the E2108 trial asking that same question in patients with breast cancer.

More broadly, this study highlights why publicly funded research remains so critically important. There are some questions that are vitally important to our clinical practice that simply won't be answered any other way. They don't have a financial incentive. There's not a pharma partner. Yet they provide critical information to us. E2108 is exactly one of these trials.

Please make sure you tune in to Dr Seema Khan's presentation as part of the plenary session. It will definitely inform your practice.

And congratulations to those who participate in publicly funded, cooperative group research in order to answer these critically important questions. I hope to see you virtually at ASCO this week. And I certainly hope we can all see each other in person again soon.

Kathy D. Miller, MD, is associate director of clinical research and co-director of the breast cancer program at the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center at Indiana University. Her career has combined both laboratory and clinical research in breast cancer.

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