My Summary of the World Conference on Lung Cancer
I recently had the privilege of attending IASLC’s 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Toronto, Ontario. Let me start by saying this may be a very scientific recap, but I will do my best to give a brief, but understandable overview. Over four days, researchers, clinicians, and advocates gave 100s of presentations. Many of which were very encouraging, and some will be practice-changing.
Breakthroughs in screening and early detection
The big buzz was around early detection. Findings from the 15,792-person NELSON trial demonstrated that CT screening in men that met certain criteria had a 26% reduction in death from lung cancer.1 In a smaller subset of women, the rates of mortality were reduced by 39%. This is fantastic news, but very few people that qualify for Low-Dose CT (LDCT) screening are actually getting them.2 This can be for a variety of reasons, but as a community, we need to work harder on educating the public and general practitioners about this possibly life-saving tool.
Notable research discoveries
Some other intriguing topics were:
- Many posters and sessions on EGFR and T790M specifically regarding Tagrisso/osimertinib and dacomitinib (ARCHER1050 trial) bringing the total to 7 first line therapies.
- Encouraging data from MD Anderson on Poziotinib for EGFR exon 20 mutations.
- Practice-changing data for late stage small cell by adding atezolizumab to chemotherapy in IMpower133 trial.3 This is very exciting especially since there has not been a new treatment for SCLC in almost 30 years.
- Updates on trials for ROS1 including entrectinib with 77% overall response rate (ORR), Repotrectinib’s TRIDENT-1 phase I data, and Lorlatinib’s effectiveness to overcome some resistance mutations.4,5
- Data was presented from the ALTA-1L trial for ALK positive lung cancer comparing Brigatinib and crizotinib as first line therapy and several other drugs and their overall efficacy.
This may all sound like gibberish to some of you, but I assure you there was a lot of promising data given. You can find much of this online by doing a Google search.
Patients first at WCLC
As thrilling as all of those sessions were, it gets better! This was the first time that a patient/advocate/activist has given a presentation at WCLC. Janet Freeman-Daily, of the ROS1ders, gave not only one, but THREE presentations on the uprising of oncogene-driven patient groups. She articulately stated how we are accelerating research and how clinical researchers and industry would benefit from partnering with these patient groups.
These groups were formed out of desperation and motivation to live longer. One of Janet’s slides states “Together we support other patients, increase awareness and education, accelerate and fund research, and aim to improve access to effective diagnosis and treatments.” There were approximately 20 lung cancer survivors at WCLC representing each of the oncogene-driven patient groups. Half of which were from Canada, about half from the U.S., and two came all the way from India and Nigeria. It was wonderful to meet in person and connect with these fierce advocates.
Working together for a brighter tomorrow
Doctors, advocacy groups, and researchers are not only paying attention to us, they want to work with us. This reinforces that we ARE better together. This is a huge step in addressing unmet needs and collaborating to help patients live longer with lung cancer. This makes me very excited about the future.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?