What are the “off-the-charts” advances in cancer treatments? | Cancer research

At the 2024 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest cancer conference, doctors, scientists and researchers shared new findings on ways to address the disease.

The event in Chicago, attended by approximately 44,000 healthcare professionals, featured more than 200 sessions focused on this year’s theme, The Art and Science of Cancer Care: From Comfort to Cure. Below is a summary of the key studies.

NHS launches world’s first cancer vaccine trial program

After decades of development, cancer vaccines are now showing signs of efficacy and potential to help patients fend off the disease for good.

The first personalized mRNA cancer vaccine for melanoma cuts patients’ risk of dying or the disease coming back by half, according to trial results that doctors described as “extremely impressive.”

Patients who received the vaccine after having stage 3 or 4 melanoma removed had a 49% lower risk of dying or having the disease come back after three years, data presented at the conference showed.

A second trial found that cancer vaccines can significantly improve the survival of breast cancer patients after surgery.

Meanwhile, with more vaccine trials launching globally, the NHS announced that thousands of patients in England will quickly take part in the studies as part of a world-first “matching” scheme, called the Vaccine Launch Platform. cancer.

Under the plan, patients will gain immediate access to clinical trials of vaccines that experts say represent a new dawn in cancer treatments.

Hodgkin lymphoma is cured most effectively with a combination of treatments

Results from a phase 3 trial showed that a six-therapy treatment combination, BrECADD, was more effective and caused fewer side effects than the standard chemotherapy regimen, BEACOPP.

After four years, progression-free survival (PFS), the amount of time patients live without the disease growing or spreading, was 94.3% for BrECADD and 90.9% for BEACOPP.

Overall survival, which indicates how many patients are alive after treatment, was 98.5% for BrECADD and 98.2% for BEACOPP. Most significantly, people in the BrECADD group had a 34% lower risk of disease progression than those in the BEACOPP group.

The most common side effects were abnormal blood cell counts. The researchers found that serious blood-related side effects emerged in 31% of people in the BrECADD group and 52% of people in the BEACOPP group.

Tests More Accurately Predict Prostate Cancer Risk and Breast Cancer Recurrence

Delegates were briefed on two new tests aimed at providing an early warning signal for two of the world’s most common cancers.

The first, for prostate cancer, involves a DNA sample collected with a simple saliva test. Test results suggest it is more accurate than standard tests. It works by looking for genetic signals in saliva that are related to prostate cancer.

The second, a blood test, predicts the risk of breast cancer coming back three years before the tumors show up on scans. The breakthrough could help more women beat the disease permanently.

AI Could Help Encourage People to Get Cancer Screenings

A study evaluating the use of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based patient navigation tool showed promise in helping patients in underserved communities schedule and receive cancer screenings if they had missed or skipped previous appointments.

The study involved 2,400 patients at a cancer center in the Bronx, New York, where most people came from ethnic minority communities and low-income households, and many were born outside the United States. He used MyEleanor, a virtual patient navigation tool that initiated personalized AI-based conversations with patients.

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More than half of patients (57%) interacted with MyEleanor. Of those who participated, 58% agreed to a transfer to a human patient navigator to reschedule a colonoscopy.

The researchers concluded that the tool could help reduce disparities in bowel cancer experienced by people in these communities.

Drugs dissolve intestinal tumors, stop the progression of lung cancer and slow the spread of breast cancer

Several drugs showed interesting results in the fight against cancer. An immunotherapy drug, pembrolizumab, that “melts” tumors dramatically increases the chances of curing some bowel cancers and may even replace the need for surgery, doctors said.

Giving the drug before surgery instead of chemotherapy led to a huge increase in the number of patients declared cancer-free, according to a clinical trial.

Meanwhile, more than half of patients (60%) diagnosed with advanced forms of lung cancer who took lorlatinib were still alive five years later without progression of their disease, data presented at the conference showed. The rate was 8% in patients treated with a standard drug, the trial found.

Doctors hailed the trial results as “off the charts,” saying the drug stopped lung cancer from progressing longer than any other treatment in medical history.

A third study found that the drug Enhertu reduced the risk of cancer spreading in breast cancer patients with low HER2 levels by 38% compared to those who received chemotherapy.

Doctors also said weight-loss drugs offer a new weapon in the global fight against cancer, with “enormous potential” to prevent new cases and shrink tumors after research showed the injections can reduce the risk of develop the disease in one fifth.

Cancer survivors trying to conceive can successfully get pregnant and give birth

Early-onset cancer was a key topic of discussion in Chicago. One study showed that rates of younger people developing the disease in the UK had risen by 24% in two decades, a steeper rise than any other age group.

The trend has sparked renewed interest in fertility: Preserving the ability to get pregnant is often important for young people diagnosed with cancer. Certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, can have a temporary or permanent impact on a person’s fertility.

Researchers looked at long-term pregnancy and birth outcomes in breast cancer survivors who tried to get pregnant after treatment. They found that the majority of patients (73%) who tried to get pregnant after treatment became pregnant at least once.

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