The European Society of Medical Oncology recently wrapped up their annual congress that ran from 8 – 12 September. This educational congress was held in collaboration with the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR).

International delegates flocking to Madrid, Spain and making up nearly 24,000 participants from a whopping total of 131 countries. Majority of the attendees hailed from United States of America, France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, China, Japan, and Russia.

All the halls were jam-packed with delegates as the congress recorded its largest turnout for this event – approximately 24,000 attendees. Photo credit: ESMO
All the halls were jam-packed with delegates as the congress recorded its largest turnout for this event – approximately 24,000 attendees. Photo credit: ESMO

All eyes on the latest research breakthroughs in melanoma, lung cancer and more

ESMO President, Fortunato Ciardiello welcomed guests and announced the goal set for this year’s congress stating, “This exciting collaboration, which facilitates an integrated approach to cancer management, also reflects the over-arching goal of the congress, ‘Integrating science into oncology for a better patient outcome.’

Echoing ESMO President Fortunato Ciardiello's welcoming remark: “ESMO 2017 will be a truly integrated congress – bringing together researchers and clinicians to help bridge the gap between innovation and clinical implementation, thanks to the partnership with the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)”. Photo credit: ESMO
Echoing ESMO President Fortunato Ciardiello's welcoming remark: “ESMO 2017 will be a truly integrated congress – bringing together researchers and clinicians to help bridge the gap between innovation and clinical implementation, thanks to the partnership with the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)”. Photo credit: ESMO

Activities and discussions spanning over five days were enticing and eye-opening as they zoomed into the new advancements in medical oncology. Before kicking off, delegates had submitted a record-smashing number of abstracts – 3,260 in total – with 1,736 selected for presentation. Additionally, 55 late breaking abstracts revealed some ground-breaking findings.

One of the notable practice-changing studies included AstraZeneca’s PACIFIC trial which researchers are saying has shown “striking” results. In this research, PD-L1 antibody durvalumab (Imfizi) was tested against a placebo on patients with stage 3 unresectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The total participants had failed to progress after standard platinum-based chemotherapy concurrent with radiation therapy.

Results noted an improvement in progression-free survival of 16.8 months in patients receiving durvalumab compared to a median of 5.6 months in the placebo group. In addition, the treatment group experienced lesser metastasis incidence than those taking placebo.

Posters of abstracts attained were on display in the venue to draw attention to the latest advancements and findings in the oncology avenue. Photo credit: ESMO
Posters of abstracts attained were on display in the venue to draw attention to the latest advancements and findings in the oncology avenue. Photo credit: ESMO

Aimed at further fostering knowledge exchange and providing recent updates, studies like COMBI-AD zoomed into a new adjuvant treatment option for high-risk melanoma. The team found that in patients with surgically resected BRAF-V300-positive melanoma, one year of oral adjuvant therapy with dabrafenib and trametinib was provided a 53% lower risk for 3-year recurrence compared with placebo.

COMBI-AD presenter Axel Hauschild, Professor of Dermatology, University of Kiel, Germany said, “There is no standard of care for the adjuvant treatment of stage III melanoma.” He added, “Interferon is approved for this situation but improves relative relapse-free survival by just 20% compared to placebo.”

COMBI-AD presenter Axel Hauschild detailed the groundbreaking findings of melanoma research to the attendees in hopes of progressing towards better patient care. Photo credit: ESMO
COMBI-AD presenter Axel Hauschild detailed the groundbreaking findings of melanoma research to the attendees in hopes of progressing towards better patient care. Photo credit: ESMO

At the same presidential symposium, the CheckMate 238 trial depicted a clear benefit for adjuvant nivolumab (Opdivo) for patients with surgically resected stage III/IV melanoma at high risk of relapse. They found that the new drug increased relapse-free survival by a significant 35% compared to adjuvant ipilimumab – the current standard-of-care.

All these studies and more from the large international congress were concurrently published in leading scientific journals including the Lancet Oncology, New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and Annals of Oncology.

The state-of-the-art exhibition booths by key industry players drew the crowd and exposed them to novel aspects in oncology field. Photo credit: ESMO
The state-of-the-art exhibition booths by key industry players drew the crowd and exposed them to novel aspects in oncology field. Photo credit: ESMO

Future outlook: Zooming into prevention, policies and biosimilars

The importance of preventing cancer was a common theme that researchers echoed during the congress. “40% of cancers are preventable,” remarked Professor Josep Tabernero, ESMO President-Elect.

He went on to add, “Oncology is not only about medicines. We should emphasise lifestyle changes that would reduce the incidence of cancer; stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, having a balanced diet low in red meat, exercise, and avoid exposure to substances that have been shown to be carcinogenic.’’

Professor Josep Tabernero, ESMO President-Elect stressed on the role of
Professor Josep Tabernero, ESMO President-Elect stressed on the role of "prevention vs. cure" in tackling cancer. Photo credit: ESMO

In terms of policies, there were discussions surrounding the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of cancer treatments. Thus, focus was placed on the role of biosimilars in oncology in a special session during this year’s ESMO Congress. Experts discussed utilising it in clinical practice as well its validity as an option to facilitate access to treatment and ease the healthcare systems’ burden.

The crowd was reminded to gear up for the next ESMO 2018 Congress, which is set to be held in Munich, Germany on 19 – 23 October 2018. MIMS

Read more:
Kuala Lumpur plays host to Asia Pacific edition of biannual International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare
Inaugural Asia Pacific AKI CRRT Congress 2017 comes to a successful close
“Looking Back, Moving Forward”—OGSM annual congress reflects on 25 years of milestone

Sources:
https://pharmaphorum.com/views-and-analysis/esmo-2017-preview-astrazeneca-s-comeback-io-shifts-earlier-use/
https://www.dddmag.com/article/2017/09/astrazeneca-reveals-promising-pfs-data-lung-cancer-drug
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-09-poster-esmo-positive-trials.html
https://www.dddmag.com/article/2017/09/highlights-esmo-2017-congress
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/885539
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/885541
http://www.esmo.org/content/download/118751/2087775/file/4837_ESMO_Daily_Reporter_Tuesday_v3_LR.pdf