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Vol 21, No. 01, January 2017   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
WCLC 2016: Discussions on Lung Cancer

IASLC 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) 2016 was held in Vienna, Austria from December 4-7, 2016. It is the world’s largest meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies, and attracts more than 6,000 researchers, physicians, and specialists from over 100 countries.

Results of various clinical drug trials that showed a reduction in risk of disease progression among lung cancer patients were presented by researchers at the conference. The conference also focused on clinical trials that advance the progress made in lung cancer treatment through immunotherapy and better diagnostics.

Some of the updates include:

  • Results from the AURA3 trial show that patients who enrolled and received osimertinib experienced a 70 percent reduction in progression-free disease compared to patients who were in the control group that received chemotherapy. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Dr. Yi-Long Wu and his co-researchers demonstrate that patients receiving icotinib live longer than those receiving the combined treatment of whole brain radiation and chemotherapy. Thus, icotinib should be used in first-line setting for EGFR mutant patients with brain metastases.
  • Results from the ASCEND-4 trial show that patients who received first-line ceritinib experienced a 45 percent risk reduction for advanced (ALK+) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) compared to a control group who received chemotherapy.
  • A revised tumour classification, based on more than 70,000 NSCLC patients and 6,100 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients, is now available to lung cancer specialists around the world in the 8th Edition of the Tumour, Node, and Metastasis (TNM) Classification. This new edition was published by the Union for International Cancer Control, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) in their respective staging manuals. According to Dr. Ramon Rami-Porta from Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrrassa, Terrassa, Spain, this revised edition seeks to improve the classification of the anatomical extent of lung cancer.
  • Patients in the pembrolizumab arm of the KEYNOTE-024 trial reported better quality of life than patients receiving chemotherapy. According to Dr. Julie R. Brahmer, “Pembrolizumab was associated with a clinically meaningful improvement in healthcare, as the time for deterioration in cough, dyspnea and chest pain was slower compared to platinum-based chemotherapy. Combined with the superior progression-free survival and overall survival rate of patients on pembrolizumab and manageable safety profile, these data suggest that pembrolizumab may be a new standard of care for first-line treatment of PD-L1 – expressing advanced non-small cell lung cancer.”
  • Regular use of ibuprofen (a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) may lower the risk of lung cancer among those with a history of cigarette smoking.
  • Data from a global trial, Phase II ATLANTIC trial, reported that Durvalumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), was clinically active and well-tolerated when given to heavily pre-treated metastatic NSCLC patients.
  • The immunotherapy nivolumab showed promise in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
  • Patients who received atezolizumab as part of the OAK Trial experienced an average of 4.2months improvement in overall survival, compared to patients enrolled in the docetaxel arm of the trial.
  • Immunology researchers strive to find a test that accurately and consistently predicts the PD-L1 status so that pathologists and clinicians can better predict which patients will benefit from immunotherapy. French researchers presented data on how several laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) were more effective than PD-L1 assays used in clinical trials.

Dr. Fred R. Hirsch, IASLC Chief Executive Officer shared his comments on future lung cancer treatment with APBN.

1) What are the common symptoms of a person who has lung cancer?

Coughing, shortness of breath, occasional chest pain, and weight loss.

2) How do you foresee the future development of lung cancer treatment?

The progress has been very encouraging over the past years, and it will continue with new targeted therapies and particularly, the further development of immunotherapy.

3) Is immunotherapy the new hope of lung cancer treatment? What procedures are involved in immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is the new hope. The mechanisms are complicated and many, but its goal is essentially to prevent the cancer from escaping the immune system. So far, immunotherapy is focused on an activation of T-cells.

4) We learned that the IASLC is coordinating a project identifying effective assay to test people for immunotherapy. Could you elaborate more on it?

IASLC is coordinating the "PD-L1 Blueprint Project", which compares 5 different PD-L1 assays used in clinical trials. The consortium consists of IASLC, BMS, AstraZeneca, Merck, Genentech/Roche and Pfizer/Merck Serono.

5) Can lung cancer/lung diseases be prevented? How would you advice the public on reducing their chances of getting lung cancer?

Don't smoke, smoking cessation and screening with low dose CT for smokers/previous smokers in the age of 50-74 years.

About the Interviewee

Dr. Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD.
IASLC Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, has worked with clinical/translational research in lung cancer for more than 25 years. His current interest is in biomarker developments for the treatment and early detection of lung cancer. He is particularly studying biomarkers related to molecular targeted therapies in order to understand the mechanisms of action and resistance of these new therapies, and to be able to select the patients who will benefit from such treatment. The biomarker studies include preclinical studies as well as studies from tumor tissue from clinical cohorts. Dr. Hirsch’s laboratory is currently studying biomarkers in multiple clinical trials performed in the US and Europe both in lung and head and neck cancer.

Dr. Hirsch is the Co-Chair of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) lung cancer translational science committee, and he has served as a member of the Thoracic Oncology Steering Committee for the US National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Hirsch has received several awards, including the prestigious IASLC Mary J. Matthews Award for his lifetime achievement in lung cancer translational science as well as the Japanese Lung Cancer Society’s Merit Award and the Addario Lectureship Award.

Dr. Hirsch is a professor at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine in Denver, Colo., U.S., and is Associate Director for the University of Colorado Cancer Center. He is also adjunct professor at the Tongji University, Shanghai, China. He is the Chief Executive Officer of IASLC.

Dr. Hirsch holds a medical degree and doctorate from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a degree from the Copenhagen Business School.

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