Monday, June 8, 2015

Excitement at ASCO

     Each year, around this time, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, (aka ASCO,) holds their annual meeting.  It is at this conference that great minds in clinical oncology bring the latest data and information they have gathered from their research and present it to other oncology care providers, and the rest of the world.  I don't know if it's always held in Chicago, but last year, this year and next year, have been, and will be, in our Windy City. The 2015 conference was May 29th-June 2nd.

      Although I knew about the 2014 ASCO meeting last year, I didn't know that non-providers or non-clinical researchers could attend.  A few lung cancer ninjas that I know went last year and reported back to us on medications that were either newly available or in the pipeline, and other breaking news.  

      I wanted to attend this year, but Wynn and I were invited to a wedding, so we were out-of-town that weekend.  I knew that I could learn the information presented at this year's ASCO meeting from others who attended, and that I would regret missing the nuptials of the daughter of a dear childhood friend. 

     Following this year's meeting, on June 4th, Nathan A. Pennell, MD, PhD wrote an article for the ASCO networking website called Connection.  Dr. Pennell is an oncologist and director of the lung cancer medical oncology program at the Cleveland Clinic.  He did his fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - Harvard Medical School, and his PhD is in neuroscience.  I mention a few highlights from Dr. Pennell's bio to make the point that the guy probably knows what he's talking about.  His article is entitled:  View from the Podium:  Lung Cancer Finally Gets Its Moment at ASCO2015.  Here's the link if you're interested in reading it:

"Immunotherapies, whoa-ooo-whoa."

      This article is seven paragraphs long, not too technical and made my heart SING....LaaaaaaaaaH!  Pennell described the buzz and excitement among the ASCO attendees about new immunotherapies showing great promise for lung cancer patients.  (Immunotherapies are medications used to boost the patient's own immune system to combat the cancer.) The response rates are good and overall survival (OS) rates are much improved over previously used chemotherapies. He wrote the sentence, "It was magical," to describe the excitement he felt knowing that he could bring this good great news of a new treatment option back to his patients.  

      I figure if Dr. Pennell is excited and optimistic about the future of immunotherapies in lung cancer, then...SO AM I!