The Spring and early Summer medical conference season has wrapped up! As in other recent years, lung cancer has figured prominently at oncology meetings, including those focused on basic science, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgery. Such meetings include the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American College of Radiology (ACR), The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the Targeted Therapies and Small Cell Lung Cancer meetings sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). Findings from these meetings were tweeted with the following hashtags and twitter handles:
Not surprisingly, immunotherapy was in the spotlight at many of the meetings with a focus on optimal combinations and patient selection, on long term outcomes, and on utilization of therapeutic drugs in earlier stage disease and in small cell lung cancer. On the targeted therapy side, there has been a renewed push to identify mechanisms of resistance to approved drugs, to find new targets, and to identify new agents for these targets or for those patients who have failed previous therapy. And finally, with regard to early stage lung cancer, there remains a continued focus on early detection, on improving lung cancer screening uptake, on correlation of imaging features with biology, and on focused local therapy, whether by surgical resection or with stereotactic radiation.
Through social media, now more than ever before, the presentations at these meetings get widely and rapidly disseminated to scientists, physicians, and patients and advocates. In particular, the lung cancer community has made a tremendous effort to engage patients and advocates at many of these meetings to get their input and feedback on what is important to them. In this #LCSM Chat, the @lcsmchat team will summarize what is new in lung cancer and describe the topics that were in focus at these national meetings. We will highlight some of the major lung cancer presentations from the meetings, but also describe the overall direction of each organization with regard to lung cancer. It is an incredible time for lung cancer patients, with better diagnostic pathways and more treatment options than ever before. Yet lung cancer remains the most common cancer killer by far. Obviously, we need to keep pushing, with better science, more clinical trials, and more patient education and engagement. Medical conferences are critical to accomplish that mission. With that in mind, we will address the following topics during this week’s #LCSM Chat:
T1. How have the meetings changed over time and what is the best way for patients/advocates to understand what is important?
T2. What were the major findings regarding immunotherapy that were presented at the meetings?
T3. What was presented at the meetings with regard to overcoming resistance to targeted therapy?
T4. Has there been progress in finding new therapeutic targets and in bringing new drugs to the clinic?
T5. What is happening with regard to screening, early diagnosis, and treatment of early stage lung cancer?
Join moderator, Brendon Stiles, MD, as we explore this topic. Please remember to include #LCSM in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read our primer on participating in the chat. Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters.
Our May 9, 2019 #LCSM Chat at 8 pm Eastern (5 pm Pacific) will focus on the newest treatments for early stage lung cancer. The topic should be interesting to all who deal with early stage disease — patients, caregivers, oncology nurses, surgeons, radiologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, and oncologists.
Although we have all heard about the tremendous advances in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer, we sometimes don’t appreciate the incredible progress we have also made in diagnosing and treating early stage lung cancer. Early stage patients can realistically strive for and expect cures.
However, challenges still remain. As opposed to many other cancers, the majority of lung cancer patients currently present with metastatic disease. As we find more lung cancers through lung cancer screening programs, incidentally, or through an overall increased awareness of the disease, we hope that will change and that most patients will be diagnosed earlier. But, even for patients with stage I lung cancer, survival rates are generally not as good as those seen in other common cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Opportunities therefore exist to markedly improve outcomes in lung cancer patients with limited (stage I) or with local-regional disease (stage II and III).
With that in mind, the @lcsmchat team will discuss recent advances in early stage lung cancer. Some think treatment paradigms in these patients will change in the coming years just as dramatically as they have for patients with metastatic lung cancer. Advances in diagnosis of hard-to-get-to lung nodules will identify lung cancers even earlier. Targeted surgical therapy will cure these cancers, while minimizing harm to patients. Stereotactic radiation will increasingly become an alternative to surgical therapy for sicker patients and perhaps even for healthy patients. And finally, the drugs which have been so successfully targeted to patients with metastatic disease will increasingly be found to have value for patients with earlier stage disease.
Please join moderator Brendon Stiles (@BrendonStilesMD) in our May 9 #LCSM Chat to discuss cover the following topics:
- T1. What interventional pulmonology advances might improve diagnosis of lung nodules found on CT scans?
- T2. What is “targeted surgical therapy”? When can lung cancer surgery take less tissue than a complete lobe (lobectomy)?
- T3. Can stereotactic radiation be an alternative to surgery for some patients with early stage lung cancer?
- T4. Should targeted therapy be given to early stage lung cancer patients with driver mutations (like EGFR, ALK, ROS1, RET)?
- T5. Is there a role for immunotherapy in patients with early stage lung cancer?
Hope you’ll join us! Please remember to include #LCSM in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read our primer on participating in the chat. Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters.
It’s easy to understand the importance of lung cancer education and advocacy. Of COURSE we should help patients and caregivers learn more about different types of lung cancer, biomarker testing, and treatment options. Of course we should help them come together, to raise their voices, to make the general public understand the terrible toll lung cancer extracts from individuals and society, to combat stigma and nihilism.
But what about research? Some people suggest research isn’t as important as education or advocacy. They ask, “But what does research actually do for today’s patients?”
Our April #LCSM Chat will start April 11, 2019 at 8 pm Eastern (5 pm Pacific) and focus on “Why research matters for lung cancer.” The term “research” covers many topics, from discovering the reasons why patients get lung cancer, to investigating how to detect lung cancer earlier, to identifying and refining drug targets, to developing new treatments for lung cancer patients. And research itself covers a broad spectrum, from basic science research, to translational research studies on biological materials from lung cancer patients, to clinical studies on patients themselves.
Nothing moves the needle more for lung cancer patients than research. As an example, let’s consider the story of ALK rearranged lung cancer. This molecular rearrangement was first described in lung cancer in 2007. Based upon knowledge of its role in other tumors and based upon laboratory studies of cell lines with ALK rearrangements, an existing drug was hoped to potentially be effective for these patients. Building on what researchers and oncologists had learned from clinical trials in patients with EGFR mutations, prospective clinical trials were able to narrowly focus on patients specifically with ALK rearrangements and to quickly demonstrate the efficacy of that drug. It was approved for patients less than four years later. Today there are many other targeted drugs for ALK rearranged lung cancer patients that work even better. Additionally, tremendous efforts are being made to understand optimal sequencing of these drugs as well as strategies to overcome treatment resistance. This has undoubtedly changed the lives and outlooks of thousands of lung cancer patients. A recent paper reported that at a specialty lung cancer center, the median survival of ALK positive patients was 6.8 years compared to just 9 months for patients without targetable molecular alterations! Such success would have been hard to imagine just ten years ago. Fortunately, the ALK story is not unique. Patients with molecular aberrations in EGFR, ROS1, BRAF, MET, NTRK, and others may experience similar success, thanks in some part to education and advocacy, but particularly driven by research. And research into immunotherapy (which won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018) has now opened the door to patients not lucky enough to have these “driver” mutations. Clearly research has changed the face of lung cancer and the lives of many patients diagnosed with this terrible cancer.
Please join moderator Brendon Stiles (@BrendonStilesMD) in our April 11 #LCSM Chat for an exploration of lung cancer research. We will cover the following topics:
- T1. Is research just for future patients, or do current patients also benefit?
- T2. In what areas is more research most needed for lung cancer?
- T3. What can researchers do to make their work more accessible to patients and advocates?
- T4. What is the @IASLC STARS program and why are programs that train patients and advocates important?
- T5. How can patients and advocates get more involved with research?
Please remember to include #LCSM in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read our primer on participating in the chat. Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters. Hope you’ll join us!