This section contains the latest highlighted research for patients from ASCO medical journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, as well as an archive of research highlights from previous ASCO scientific meetings (2011-2015). For the latest research highlights from more recent ASCO meetings, visit the Cancer.Net Blog or check out Cancer.Net’s audio podcasts and videos for patients.
To search this archive, use the drop-down menu below. You can select a specific year, meeting or publication, and/or a specific topic, such as a type of cancer. Selecting "All" will take you to a complete list of articles that appear under all categories.
A new type of targeted immunotherapy (called MPDL3280A) was able to shrink several different types of cancer, including lung, melanoma, kidney, colorectal, and stomach cancers in patients whose cancer had worsened while receiving other treatments. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Specifically, this new treatment targets PD-L1, a protein on the surface of tumor cells that prevents the immune system from fighting the tumor. Basically, this treatment stops PD-L1 from working, which then allows the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.
Researchers found that the drug dabrafenib reduced the risk of melanoma worsening and the risk of death from the disease when compared with chemotherapy in a new, large study of melanoma. Dabrafenib is a targeted drug. This treatment targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, dabrafenib targets a mutation (change) in the BRAF gene, which is known to fuel melanoma growth. Another drug recently used for melanoma, vemurafenib (Zelboraf), also targets the BRAF mutation.
A recent study showed that the drug trametinib slowed tumor growth and lengthened the lives of patients who have advanced melanoma with a BRAF gene mutation (change). Trametinib is a type of treatment called targeted therapy. Targeted therapy targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Currently, there is one targeted therapy approved to treat melanoma that targets the BRAF gene, called vemurafenib (Zelboraf). However, vemurafenib eventually stops controlling melanoma growth for most patients, highlighting the need for other treatment options. Trametinib targets the MEK protein, which affects melanoma growth similarly to a mutated BRAF gene, which is why researchers are studying this treatment for melanoma.
A new immunotherapy (called BMS-936558) helped shrink melanoma, kidney cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a recent early study. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function.
A small analysis of a larger study showed that combining two different targeted therapy drugs, dabrafenib and trametinib, stopped advanced melanoma from worsening while causing less severe side effects than the current standard targeted therapy drug. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, dabrafenib targets changes in the BRAF gene, and trametinib targets changes in the MEK gene to stop melanoma growth.
Studies of two different drugs may change treatment for patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma. Advanced melanoma is stage IIIC or IV and cannot be removed with surgery, and metastatic melanoma has spread to other parts of the body. One study showed that the drug vemurafenib increased survival for patients with advanced melanoma when compared with chemotherapy. Vemurafenib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, vemurafenib targets mutations (changes) to a gene called BRAF, which is found in about half of all melanomas.
An early study of melanoma showed that combining two types of targeted therapies was safe and slows or stops melanoma growth. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. One of the targeted therapies used in this study, called GSK212, targets mutations (changes) to the gene called MEK. The other, called GSK436, targets mutations to the gene called BRAF. Both of these genes contribute to melanoma growth, and both treatments have been shown to help treat melanoma when used alone. In this ongoing study, researchers aim to find out if combining the drugs is safe and more effective for patients with advanced melanoma.
Researchers have shown a form of personalized gene therapy that uses a patient's own immune cells could treat metastatic melanoma and synovial cell sarcoma tumors, representing a potentially new therapeutic approach against these and other cancers.