File photo from the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago. EFE/Ana Soteras

Cancer battle shifts focus to less invasive methods, improved patient care

Washington, June 1 (EFE) – Chicago transforms into the hub of oncology research from Friday until Tuesday, as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is set to host its annual conference in the city once again, with a spotlight on less invasive treatments and enhancing the doctor-patient relationship.

According to the organizers, this collaboration between professionals and patients serves as the cornerstone of care and research. It will take center stage at the conference, which anticipates around 40,000 attendees in person – a number returning to pre-pandemic levels.

ASCO’s President, Eric Winer, acknowledges that the relationship between doctors and patients has evolved in recent years. Digital access to medical information – and misinformation – has occasionally caused confusion. Therefore, increased interaction between professionals and patients improves both diagnosis and the overall medical experience.

The gathering at the McCormick Place Convention Center will prompt participants to introspectively evaluate what has improved or declined, and explore ways to make interactions more satisfactory.

Founded in 1964 by seven oncologists, ASCO aims to eradicate cancer through research, education, and advocating for fairer and better quality healthcare. It recognizes that many types of cancer are still hard to diagnose and treat.

“We aspire to a world where cancer can be prevented and cured, and where every survivor is healthy. Each cancer, each patient, and each drug and treatment is different,” ASCO’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Julie Gralow, told Agencia EFE. She believes political will, alongside funding, plays a significant role.

The latest World Health Organization data indicates that cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for approximately 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six. Breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers led the new cases that year.

The ASCO conference serves as a platform to exchange advancements in research, which point towards less invasive treatments or more precision in the use of drug-antibody conjugates.

One such innovation is presented by MEDSIR, a company dedicated to advancing clinical research in oncology, based in Spain and the United States.

File photo from the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago. EFE/Ana Soteras
File photo from the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago. EFE/Ana Soteras

Led by researchers Javier Cortés, Antonio Llombart-Cussac, and José Pérez, their phase 2 clinical trial, PHERGain, is introducing a new individualized approach to treat localized HER2 Positive breast cancer. The trial, set to be presented on Friday, is seen as a significant step towards less toxic methods.

The study, according to MEDSIR, assesses the feasibility of “de-escalating” chemotherapy treatments for patients with this cancer subtype, using an adaptive approach based on the response observed through Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and complete pathological response.

The conference, the sector’s foremost, also brings together representatives from institutes like France’s Curie, which will present the clinical benefits of liquid biopsy, a blood analysis that confirms or detects the presence of cancer cells.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca will share treatment results they believe could transform oncological care. This includes data on the potential of the drug trastuzumab deruxtecan in a broad range of advanced HER2 tumors.

Gralow asserts there are reasons for hope. The rate of drug approvals against different types of cancer and targets is so “astonishing” that “it’s hard to keep up.” “And this is thanks to sustained investment,” she said. EFE