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Report from ASCO GU 2017

Report from ASCO GU 2017

ASCO GU is an annual symposium where doctors and members of the cancer community gather from around the world to discuss the latest and greatest in research for Genitourinary (GU) Cancers – which includes kidney cancer.  KCCure was honored to be included, along with many other valued advocacy organizations, representing the patient voice.

While past years have focused heavily on the new immunotherapy treatments, two significant areas were the focus at this year’s conference: adjuvant treatment of kidney cancer and new combination treatments.

Adjuvant Treatment of Kidney Cancer

What is adjuvant treatment?  In other cancers, patients often are treated with chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation after surgery to keep the cancer from coming back. That treatment is called adjuvant therapy.

Many kidney cancer patients are surprised to learn that they don’t need to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation after having a nephrectomy.  While it’s often discussed by doctors as an advantage, the reality is that we simply haven’t found any treatments that successfully work this way for kidney cancer.

After decades of research and countless negative trials, a newly concluded trial called the S-TRAC trial showed that using Sutent for one year after surgery may help decrease the chances of cancer recurrence for some patients.  The data is controversial because it differs from previous trials that used similar treatments.  Nonetheless, it has everyone in the cancer community talking about adjuvant treatment – and that’s positive for patients.  Interested in learning more about the discussions on adjuvant therapy?  Click here to read all about it!

Combination Treatments for Kidney Cancer

Many of us are familiar with the new immunotherapy treatments and clinical trials that are now available for kidney cancer, especially Opdivo (Nivolumab) and Keytruda (Pembrolizumab).  (If your head is already spinning, check out our previous post explaining drug names.)  This year, there was a lot of buzz around a trial that combines two drugs that are equally difficult to pronounce: Atezolizumab (Atizo) and Bevucizumab (Bev).

Bev, also known by the brand name Avastin, has been FDA approved for treating kidney cancer for many years and works to block VEGF.  Atezo, is a checkpoint inhibitor, that’s designed to harness the immune system to attack cancer.  Trials in the past that focused on combining immunotherapies with targeted therapies haven’t shown promise.  However, a newly completed phase 2 trial showed that there could be efficacy using these drugs in combination.  More research is needed to know whether this is really a breakthrough.  Nonetheless, the data is promising enough to warrant a phase 3 trial of the two drugs.  Want to learn more about Atizo and Bev? Check out some of the data that was presented at ASCO GU here.

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Dena Battle is the President of KCCure. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and as a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council.

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