The four most relevant news that will be presented at the annual conference concern tumors of the brain, rectum, lung and a blood cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma
June 2 opens in Chicago the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco), the world‘s most important event for the presentation of new research on cancer. In four days the results of 5,500 trialsin the presence of over 42 thousand specialists participants and a thousand journalists. Everyone’s eyes will be focused on the news, which give hope, in addition to oncologists, to millions of patients and family members. especially those they face advanced or difficult-to-treat cancerfor whom standard therapies no longer work, and who place faith in research progress.
The four studies in plenary session
What are the most relevant news that will come from this Asco 2023? «The studies considered of greater importance are presented during the plenary session of the conference, Sunday 4 June, and until then the results are all strictly under embargo – he replies Joseph Curigliano, director of the Division of new drugs for innovative therapies of the European Institute of Oncology in Milan —. But we already know that they will concern
low-grade gliomas, brain tumors that often affect young people, around 30-40 years of age, for which a new effective drug (vorasidenib) arrives for the first time after 20 years and currently there are no approved targeted therapies. The second study in the plenary is on
locally advanced rectal cancer, whose standard treatment is chemotherapy and radiation before surgery, but a new combination of chemotherapy is being tested with the hope that it will have fewer side effects. And again: the final results of the ADAURA study on patients with
early stage non-small cell lung cancer treated, after surgery, with the drug osimertinib which has already been shown to significantly reduce the risk of recurrence and death: we now expect to see significant progress on survival”.
The fourth novelty will be up a blood cancer, advanced Hodgkin lymphomafor which the current standard of care was compared with an innovative one, based on immunotherapy (nivolumab), which it is hoped will cure a greater number of patients.
Trials also available in Italy
Do we need to go abroad to obtain more innovative therapies, better than those offered in our hospitals? “No, it is not necessary to cross national borders to receive cutting-edge therapies – he underlines Carmine Pintopresident of the federation that brings together the best researchers (Federation of Italian cooperative oncology groups) —. Almost all of the trials presented at Asco are also available in Italy and it is not uncommon for us to be among the lead authors of the study. Despite many critical issues, our country has a significant wealth of top-level cancer researchers and centres, which have developed important research and produced changes in standards of care throughout the world“.
He spoke of the fundamental contribution of Italian scientists in a previous interview with Courier
Also Eric Winerpresident of Asco: «Umberto Veronesi and Gianni Bonadonna they made an immense difference when women died of breast cancer. And the value of Italy is also high today », she said, emphasizing the immense value of our National Health System and the “luck of living in a country that doesn’t ask you for a credit card before going to hospital”.
Free treatment for all: the challenge of the NHS
Will our NHS be able to continue treating all cancer patients for free? New therapies save lives and save precious time, but are increasingly expensive. And cancer cases have been steadily increasing for years. “It is a very difficult challenge, in our country the NHS is already underfunded for the assistance and services it offers – says Pinto, director of medical oncology at the AUSL-IRCCS of Reggio Emilia -. Resources are needed to maintain and implement current standards of care without inequalities between the Regions. Otherwise, it would be difficult to guarantee access to new and more effective oncological drugs molecular diagnostics with genomic tests essential in many tumors to be able to give the “right drug to the right patient”, to screening for early diagnosisto new imaging technologies such as radiotherapy or surgery with the diffusion of robotics and minimally invasive procedures”.
Meanwhile in Italy healing increases (there are 3.6 million compatriots alive after a cancer diagnosis, over a million of whom can be said to be cured) and the army of people who they survive for a long time, even many years. “Our mortality rates are often lower than the average – recalls Curigliano, a member of the board of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) -, to demonstrate once again the quality of our doctors and hospitals, but all this always involves costs greater and the NHS is not supported as necessary, public health risks collapse».
Yet in the Def (Economics and Finance Document) 2023, the ratio between health expenditure and GDP drops to 6.7% compared to 6.9% in 2022: that is, we will invest even less to protect our health. While an analysis recently published on Jama
highlights that Italy exceeds the United States by a good 5 points, in a ranking that indicates how mortality from cancer in Italy is clearly lower, spending almost half.
Speaking of research, what can we expect or hope for in the near future? What will be the most important things coming in the next 5-10 years? «Preventing cancer must be a priority, because a third of cases can only be avoided with correct lifestyles and everyone’s commitment is needed on this – replies Curigliano -. Furthermore it is essential to improve early diagnosismeans you are more likely to recover or survive for a long time: about 9 out of 10 patients survive five years or more from early-stage breast or colon cancer, while the odds drop dramatically if the discovery is late. As for the new treatments, the more we know genetic mutations that cause the various types of cancer, the more we will be able to find cures (such as immunotherapy and target therapycapable of being effective”.
Because participating in the trials is an advantage
Most of the studies presented at the upcoming American conference involve patients with a metastatic neoplasm or in any case very advanced, for which all the previous treatments have had no effect. In this situation, many people wander around in search of an avant-garde therapy, while others refuse to participate in the trials because they don’t want to act as a “guinea pig”. «It is a stereotype that has never been surpassed – concludes Pinto -. Today a clinical trial is an opportunity to receive innovative medicines (not yet on the market), which it is hoped will be more effective and the risks for the sick are very limited. It is a strictly internationally regulated route and that protect the patient first».
June 1, 2023 (change June 1, 2023 | 06:59)
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