The Vice Chairs of Kidney Cancer Canada are currently attending the GU ASCO Conference in San Francisco. It has been a very informative conference with a strong emphasis on Kidney Cancer including 125 displays on recent research being done around the world on kidney cancer and an entire day devoted to kidney cancer panel presentations. Some of the highlights of the conference are:
- There is a continued focus on personalized care and the new buzz word is “precision medicine” and we will likely hear more about this in the year to come.
- There continues to be new discussions about the removal of the adrenal when performing a nephrectomy and word is to “leave it alone” as there is no clinical advantage to removing the adrenal gland and its removal does not improve survival or have any impact on reccurrence.
- A number of talks focused on the efficacy of targeted therapies and understanding the significance of specific side effects. Data was presented to show that side effects such as high blood pressure and hand foot syndrome are indicators that the targeted therapy is working. Management of these of these side effects remains important and does not alter the benefit seen with these side effects.
- Dr. Uzzo from Fox Chase Cancer Center moderated a very interesting panel on managing competing health risks. An important point was made about how these health risks may have a larger impact on a patient’s life span than the actual kidney cancer. He talked about the importance of engaging patients in a conversation about the risks and benefits of treatment approaches and using more objective criteria to determine the best course of action taking into consideration all of the health issues not just the kidney cancer.
- Dr. Rini of Cleveland Clinic made a presentation on the best timing to treat metastatic kidney cancer. In patients with a good performance status, low volume disease with slow growing tumours and who are asymptomatic, it may be appropriate to have a period of initial active surveillance. In these patients, he suggests four triggers that would indicate the need to start treatment: 1) increase pace of disease (tumour growth), 2) disease appearing in new organ sites, 3) start of symptoms and 4) doctor or patient anxiety.
- More information was provided on the importance of optimum drug levels when treating metastatic disease and in particular drug dosages should be increased whenever possible to achieve therapeutic dosages and improve outcomes.
- Our very own Dr. Daniel Heng, from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, presented results from his study that looked at patients that were not eligible for trials for metastatic kidney cancer. He highlighted the importance of develoing drugs trials specifically for patients who are not eligible for more standard trials.
- There is lots of exciting research on the horizon including a phase three trial being planned for the personalized (dendritic cell) vaccine with Sunitinib and a possible re-emergence of a role for immunotherapy in the treatment of metastatic kidney cancer.
- There continues to be many new results of trials finishing up and we expect to see more results at ASCO 2012 in June.