The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) was held in Chicago on June 2 through June 6, 2017. At the ASCO 2017 Meeting, Heartland investigators were proud to hear presentations and discussions about studies in which our patients participated and in which our doctors and staff played a significant role in generating new discoveries.
At the Plenary Session (at which the most ground-breaking discoveries are presented), Heartland NCORP had been involved, directly or indirectly, all four of the trials discussed. Our patients helped to establish (1) whether 3 cycles of an oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy regimen was as good as, but less toxic than, the standard 6 courses of the same regimen, (2) that systematic gathering of “patient-reported outcomes” is more valuable than traditional assessment of patient’s symptoms by office staff and physicians and can be associated in better treatment outcomes, (3) the value of abiraterone early in the treatment of early prostate cancer, and (4) the tremendous value of PARP inhibition in the early treatment of BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 mutated, advanced breast cancer, in comparison with traditional 2nd-line chemotherapy.
Other trials in which Heartland NCORP patients participated were presented throughout the meeting. Not only did Heartland patients contribute to advances in cancer treatment, but they helped to establish improvements in supportive care. As an example, the EXCAP trial (from the URCC Research Base), tested systematic use of active and resistance exercise interventions in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. The trial found that there was less secretion of MYL5 and MYH8 proteins into serum. The MYL5 and MYH8 levels in serum can indicate degradation of muscle, producing a higher chance of cancer-related fatigue. The findings were presented at a poster session on Patient and Survivor Care.
Because most of the studies in which Heartland participates involve large numbers of patients, analysis of subgroups of patients who benefit more or less from the interventions that are tested will be ongoing. As a result, participation in even a single study means that information of scientific value will continue to be derived from subgroup analysis and long-term follow-up for many years to come.
Heartland NCORP physicians, research nurses, and clinical research associates work very hard to be certain that the trials in which our patients are engaged produce meaningful information that improves cancer outcomes for the patients in the communities we serve. We are indebted to the participants for their willingness to advance cancer science and clinical care. The studies presented at this year’s ASCO meeting are illustrative of the impact we are having together.