The 2020 World Conference of Lung Cancer (WCLC) originally scheduled for August 2020 in Singapore had to be postponed to January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was finally held as a worldwide virtual conference from 28th to 31st January. WCLC, which is the leading gathering of international scientists, researchers and patient advocates in the field of lung cancer and thoracic malignancies, continues to provide a forum to connect, share knowledge and learn about the latest developments in the research and treatment of these diseases.
This publication summarizes content reported at the conference in various areas of clinical interest ranging from early-stage disease to the metastatic setting. Targeted therapies have succeeded in improving disease-free survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer who tended to experience recurrence regardless of postoperative chemotherapy use. At the same time, customization of adjuvant chemotherapy based on genomic profiling did not contribute to survival prolongation. In advanced lung cancer, targeted therapy is gaining ground as various molecular aberrations are becoming amenable to treatment, including the KRAS p.G12C mutation which is found in approximately 13 % of lung adenocarcinomas. Convincing findings have been obtained for a first-in-class KRASG12C inhibitor. Furthermore, refined treatment of HER aberrations offers new possibilities, and in EGFR-mutant lung cancer, innovative agents and regimens have demonstrated antitumor efficacy in difficult-to-treat settings including resistant disease. Among others, antibody-drug conjugates represent a versatile new technology that certainly meets the expectations regarding a 21st-century individualized approach.
Immunotherapy has become a mainstay of lung cancer treatment in various settings. Important analyses presented at WCLC 2020 related to findings obtained with a range of combination regimens not all of which proved successful, although checkpoint inhibition generally opens up the road to chemotherapy-free treatment. Combinations with targeted agents allow for tackling the disease from different directions and might enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy. Nevertheless, early detection of lung cancer undoubtedly provides unique advantages, even though the implementation of low-dose computed tomography screening still faces obstacles in many countries. Biomarkers might help to improve the selection of high-risk individuals who can be expected to benefit from screening programs.