News from GU ASCO Symposium

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.

3 thoughts on “News from GU ASCO Symposium

  1. The information provided on this blog is excellent. Thank you.
    Is there hope for treatment AFTER axitinib..or is that the end of the line?
    We continue to hope and laud the excellent research and attention now being focused on Kidney Cancer.
    Thank you KCC. May all involved go from strength to strength in finding new treatments for MRCC and all afflicted.
    Maureen Katz

    1. Hi Maureen,
      Thank you for your kind comments about the Blog. We had two people down at GU ASCO who brought back a lot of good information. To answer your question about whether Axitinib is “the end of the line”, I’d like to reframe the question if I may… to say that probably we want to think about kidney cancer treatment in terms of a circle. The circle metaphor allows us to go back to treatments that were previously effective (and then stopped working). We know that many people can go back to these drugs (e.g., Sutent) after a break of at least 6 months, and then they are effective again.

      In terms of other drugs, there are others in trials… BMS (MDX1106), tivozanib, dovinitib. These drugs will eventually get approved and then be made accessible to people outside of the current trials.

      In addition, there are always Phase 1 Clinical Trials that take heavily pretreated patients. Usually these are for all “solid tumours” (not specifically for rcc), but some of the agents (e.g., if VEGF or mTOR) might make good sense for an rcc patient.

      I hope this helps.

      1. Thank you very much for your optimistic response.
        We have grown up with KCC and hope to continue for a long long time to come.
        Maureen Katz

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