Highlights from the Gastrointestinal and Genitourinary Cancer Conferences


Here are some of the top stories from the recent Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium as well as the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

It’s been a busy few weeks here at CURE® and in the oncology space as a whole, as the last two weekends had back-to-back meetings: the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, and then their Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

Here are some highlights from the conference, but as always, you can find all of our coverage at curetoday.com.

Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium

Imfinzi, Avastin, TACE May ‘Set a New Standard of Care’ in Liver Cancer

For patients with liver cancer whose disease is not eligible to be removed via surgery, adding Imfinzi and Avastin to transarterial chemoembolization — also known as TACE — tended to lengthen the time patients lived before their disease got worse, according to findings from the EMRALD-1 trial. These improvements in progression-free survival over TACE alone could lead to a new standard of care for this patient population, according to the lead study author, Dr. Riccardo Lencioni.

More specifically, patients who received Imfinzi and Avastin plus TACE lived for a median of 15 months before death or disease worsening, compared to 8.2 months for patients who received TACE alone. This correlates to a 23% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death, and benefits were seen across different patient subgroups.

Notably, the researchers on EMRALD-1 are still monitoring how the addition of the two drugs impacts overall survival. Once those data become more clear, it is possible that the drug manufacturers could submit this regimen to the FDA for approval, thereby officially shaking up the standard of care of TACE, which has remained the main treatment in this setting for about two decades.

Cancer in Bloodstream May Predict CRC Outcomes

Circulating tumor DNA — also known as ctDNA — was another hot topic at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. So ctDNA measures little fragments of cancer that are found in the bloodstream after cancer treatment.

Now, findings from the BESPOKE trial highlight the fact that ctDNA may offer insight into the recurrence risk in patients with stage 2/3 colorectal cancer who underwent surgery and then chemotherapy. The researchers used ctDNA to help determine minimal residual disease, or MRD, status. Essentially, patients with disease still detected in the blood stream were MRD positive, while those without detectable cancer were MRD negative. Findings showed that those with MRD negativity tended to live longer without experiencing relapse or death compared to patients with MRD positivity.

Genitourinary Cancers Symposium

Survival Benefits with Keytruda and Padcev in Advanced Urothelial Cancer

Back in December, the Food and Drug Administration approved Padcev plus Keytruda for patients with previously treated locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. The approval was based on primary findings from the EV-302 trial. Now, updated findings from that trial are showing that the drug duo continues to outperform chemotherapy when it comes to progression-free survival — that’s the time patients live before their disease gets worse — as well as overall survival, which is the time patients live before death of any cause.

Notably, these survival benefits were seen across patient subgroups, such as those with visceral metastases and lymph node-only disease. According to the lead study author, Dr. Michiel S. Van Der Heijden, this could result in a new standard of care in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma.

Many Patients Miss Out on Testing to Guide Prostate Cancer Treatment

On the prostate cancer front, a study found that many people with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer are not undergoing germline or somatic testing. Now this is really important because back in 2020, two PARP inhibitors were approved in this setting. These are targeted drugs approved for patients whose cancers have certain characteristics, which can be determined by these types of tests.

Rates of germline and somatic testing have increased since the FDA approvals, but according to the study — which looked at real-world evidence of patients being treated in community cancer and urology centers — about 40% of patients did not undergo standard-of-care testing.

Study author, Dr. Neal Shore, said that this indicates the need for improved education on the importance of germline and somatic testing.

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