Ian Chau, MD, Department of Medicine, The Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey, United Kingdom
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ASCO scientific meeting took place for the second time virtually from Friday, June 04, through Monday, June 08. During these five-day world’s largest oncology conference, approximately 30,000 professionals attended online at least one of the 150 on-demand and broadcast sessions featuring over almost 5,000 abstracts, more than 2,000 poster presentations, 19 oral and 16 educational sessions, as well as opening and plenary sessions, award lectures, cancer-specific highlights sessions, and several clinical cancer symposia. This shows the urge interest of the global oncology community to get information about advances in cancer research, treatments, and patient care through both scientific and educational sessions.
Next to indication-specific oral sessions dedicated to solid and hematologic malignancies, multiple general cross-thematic sessions dealt with developmental therapeutics, either molecular targeted agents and tumor biology, or immunotherapy. A large part of this publication is concerning new therapeutic options to overcome resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors; especially, innovative strategies combining immunotherapy and targeted agents led to encouraging results in the treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic solid malignancies. The identification of predictive biomarkers to anticipate patients’ susceptibility to immune-related adverse events was certainly also a main point of interest.
Novel combination approaches are currently being investigated in a wide range of solid tumors, including gastric cancers, breast cancer, cervical cancers, as well as esophageal cancers. Significant progress was communicated in breast cancer regarding PARP inhibitors, while a new potential synergetic treatment combination was reported in patients with advanced cervical cancer. More generally, new therapeutic strategies are now being explored in advanced solid tumors as combination between an anti-PD-1 antibody and different potential targets, including VEGF/Ang2, TIGIT, LAG3, PVRIG, TGF-β or HER2. Dual immunotherapy regimen or immunotherapy associated with chemotherapy are potential new standards of care in difficult-to-treat advanced or metastatic esophageal cancer. In addition, the clinical benefit of immune checkpoint inhibitors in MSI-H/dMMR solid tumors was confirmed and several innovative tissue-agnostic treatment options are currently under clinical investigation. Additionally, the effect of immunotherapy in terms of tumor elimination and pathologic response led to a better understanding of the dynamic changes in the immune microenvironment of the tumor.
Therefore, ASCO 2021 met once more its primary goal of sharing information between participants to ensure that all patients have access to the best knowledge in the field and benefit from latest therapeutic advances.
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