July Editors’ Picks from AACR Journals

As a monthly staple on this blog, we feature the editors’ picks from the 10 journal issues published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). This month, selections include two articles detailing laboratory culture methods to model human cancers, as well as results from two clinical trials, among other studies. Per usual, articles summarized here are freely available for a limited time.

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The Net Widens for Research on Rare Cancer

Rare cancers, when taken all together, make up an estimated 20 to 25 percent of all cancers diagnosed. With more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, that could mean as many as 400,000 people will learn they have a rare cancer. Often, these patients have few treatment options.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: Leaders Share Highlights and Future Direction

One of the world’s largest cancer research conferences, the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, came to an end with a plenary session titled “AACR Annual Meeting 2019 Highlights: Vision for the Future.” Leaders of the AACR provided an overview of the stellar presentations from the meeting on the topics of prevention, early detection, interception, and the latest breakthroughs in cutting-edge basic, translational, and clinical research.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: A Record Year for Clinical Trials Presentations

Over the course of AACR Annual Meeting 2019, there were 213 presentations on incredibly exciting clinical trials. This is a record number of clinical trial presentations for an AACR Annual Meeting. The trials presented covered the continuum of cancer treatment, from surgery, to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to the two newest pillars of cancer care—molecularly targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The final clinical trials plenary session of the Annual Meeting epitomized this diversity by showcasing clinical trials reporting new ways to combine radiotherapy with other types of treatment, and new advances in immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapy.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: Patients as Partners in the Research Process

In the past couple of decades, progress against cancer has created a new generation of survivors. Today, more than 16.9 million people in the United States are cancer survivors. While their experiences are incredibly diverse, many are living well. They work, they tend to their families, they travel … and many are inspired to play a role in the cancer research community.

The Presidential Select Symposium at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019 addressed these crucial roles in a session titled “Engaging Cancer Patients as Partners in the Research Process.” The session was moderated by outgoing AACR President Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: New Approaches to Treating Drug-resistant Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

About 80 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), and about 15 to 20 percent of NSCLCs harbor epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-activating mutations.
Treatment for EGFR-mutant NSCLC improved dramatically with the introduction of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Several TKIs targeting this receptor have been developed, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved first-generation EGFR TKIs gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva); second-generation EGFR TKIs, such as the FDA-approved afatinib (Gilotrif) and dacomitinib (Vizimpro), and the investigational therapeutic neratinib; and third-generation EGFR TKIs, including the FDA-approved osimertinib (Tagrisso), and the investigational therapeutics olmutinib and nazartinib.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: Optimizing PD-1/PD-L1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy

Immune checkpoint inhibitors have become part of the standard of care for more than 14 different cancer types, including melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, and to treat patients with any type of solid tumor that is microsatellite instability–high or mismatch repair–deficient. In a clinical trial plenary session held April 1 at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, titled “Optimizing PD-1/PD-L1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy: Dedicated to the Memory of Waun Ki Hong,” cancer researchers updated attendees on the latest advances in the utility of this class of immunotherapeutics, either as monotherapy or in combination with other treatment modalities.

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Utilizing Patient-reported Outcomes in Cancer Clinical Trials

Assessing new anticancer therapeutics in clinical trials is a vital step in evaluating the toxicity and efficacy of treatment before its approval for widespread use. Throughout these trials, many patients encounter a variety of side effects, ranging from physical ailments such as nausea or rash to psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. While it is standard practice to record clinician-reported outcomes to characterize safety, there is no current standard requirement for the use of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in cancer clinical trials.

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