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Understanding Targeted Therapies in Lung Cancer (Part 2)

Last updated: September 2020

In early spring, Dusty attended the Targeted Therapies in Lung Cancer Conference in Santa Monica, California, with several colleagues and fellow advocates. Read her takeaways in Understanding Targeted Therapies in Lung Cancer (Part 1).

Working together to understand research

Discussions among patient advocates helped our understanding of the potential impact of the research. I felt comfortable asking fellow advocates to reaffirm that I understood the impact of a study, particularly to their biomarker population. Or if I did not comprehend a certain presentation, other advocates would be helpful in explaining it. A thoracic nurse navigator also helped.

A chance to connect with lung cancer experts

We also had the opportunity to engage in discussions with the researchers. Several advocates, including me, spoke with oncologists who had treated them. One of my former oncologists, Dr. W. Jeffrey Petty, Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, presented. It was encouraging to see research progress for small cell lung cancer.

Dr. Petty presented on “Lurbinectedin for Small Cell Lung Cancer.” A few months later, on June 15, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to lurbinectedin for metastatic small cell lung cancer patients with disease progression or following platinum-based chemotherapy.

An explosion of treatment developments

There has been an explosion of biomarkers and subsequent targeted therapies. Even for someone gifted with scientific knowledge, it can be challenging to keep current with all the advances. During the past decade or so, not only have advocates become well-versed in their own biomarker science, researchers and oncologists are developing expertise in certain biomarkers, as well.

A different, slower-paced approach to learning science at a conference is browsing the poster sessions. Scientific posters are at most scientific conferences, including Targeted Therapies of Lung Cancer. Posters deliver science in bite-sized portions -- including introduction, charts and conclusions -- so learning is a lot easier. You can also read the posters at your own pace, taking your time when a certain one interests you and passing over others that may be less relevant to you.

Much can be learned at the exhibitor booths during scientific conferences, as well. After all, these booths largely comprise pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in lung cancer. The Targeted Therapies conference featured 15 exhibitors. These exhibitors, for the most part, conduct lung cancer research that leads to novel targeted therapies. They also provide support for the organizers to host such events.

The conference layout and structure

This conference, like others, begins early. Breakfast is available at 6:30 am and the first sessions begin at 7:30 am. These in-person conferences can be extremely grueling, especially for lung cancer patients in active treatment.

For patients and advocates interested in attending this and other scientific conferences, funding support may be available to help offset travel expenses and registration fees. These meetings provide essential information advocacy leaders need to better understand the scientific advances in lung cancer treatment.

Pros and cons of virtual conferences

For the foreseeable future, these scientific conferences are being held online. That means more advocates can attend because they do not have to worry about travel expenses or the health risks of travel. Expect a learning curve, but this is a great opportunity to grow in the knowledge of lung cancer scientific advances.

Even so, online conferences fall short in other areas, such as networking and meeting researchers and other advocates face to face. One day, I hope we will be able to safely return to those in-person meetings. In the meantime, we can build on our knowledge—no matter how great or small—so we can understand the latest breakthroughs in lung cancer science.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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