Navigating the Post-Vaccine Pandemic

Sir Murray F. Brennan, MD  /  June 10, 2021

By now, most health-care workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19.* Physical immunity would appear to last for at least 6 months and probably longer. The physical pandemic for most oncologists is declining, with an end in sight. We are protected from the serious physical consequences of COVID-1...

Kidney Cancer

Cabozantinib With Nivolumab for Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: A New Front-Line Standard

Neal S. Chawla, MD, and Sumanta K. Pal, MD, FASCO  /  June 10, 2021

The pace of clinical research in metastatic renal cell carcinoma is faster than ever. Over the past 5 years, we have seen data from six phase III clinical trials evaluating combination strategies with checkpoint inhibitors. The era began with data from CheckMate 214, evaluating nivolumab with ipili...

Solid Tumors

Is High Tumor Mutational Burden Predictive of Immune Checkpoint Blockade Efficacy Across All Cancer Types?

Thierry André, MD, and Romain Cohen, MD, PhD  /  June 10, 2021

In a letter recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine and reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post, Rousseau and colleagues reported data on the spectrum of benefit from immune checkpoint blockade in hypermutated tumors.1 Indeed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently ap...

Lung Cancer

Dual Immune Checkpoint Blockade With Nivolumab and Ipilimumab for Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Samuel Rosner, MD, and Patrick M. Forde, MBBCh  /  June 10, 2021

In recent years, immune checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of mesothelioma have been a keen area of investigation for this immunogenic solid tumor. With recent publications, principally findings from CheckMate 743 by Baas et al1 (reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post), combination immune check...

Gastroesophageal Cancer

Disease-Free Survival Benefit With Adjuvant Immunotherapy in Resectable Esophageal Cancer: Practice-Changing for All Patients?

Florian Lordick, MD, PhD  /  June 10, 2021

The CheckMate 577 trial—reported in The New England Journal of Medicine by Kelly et al1 and reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post—is the first global randomized controlled trial for patients with resectable esophageal cancer that showed a significant disease-free survival benefit for adjuvant immu...

Issues in Oncology

Equitable Cancer Care: Steps Toward Meaningful Change

Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASCO, FASTRO  /  May 25, 2021

As President-Elect of ASCO, you are asked to choose a theme for your presidency. This can be a daunting task, as the theme will not only shape the discourse of your presidency, but also, more importantly, that of the Society. The subject should be one that reflects the needs of the cancer community ...


Pembrolizumab as Long-Term Treatment Option in Relapsed or Refractory Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

Diana M. Byrnes, MD, and Craig H. Moskowitz, MD  /  May 25, 2021

For patients with relapsed or refractory classic Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), salvage chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is the standard of care and can induce long-term remissions in at least 60% of patients.1,2 Patients with progression of disease after tra...

Lung Cancer

EMPOWER-Lung 1 Trial: New Options, No New Answers

Apar Kishor Ganti, MD, MS  /  May 25, 2021

The EMPOWER-Lung 1 trial, recently reported in The Lancet and reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post, showed an improvement in progression-free and overall survival with cemiplimab-rwlc in patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and high PD-L1 expression (tumor proportion score [T...


Refining Cardiovascular Risk Assessment in Childhood Cancer Survivors

Saro Armenian, DO, MPH  /  May 25, 2021

There are an estimated 500,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States, a number that will increase exponentially in the coming years. Over half of all childhood cancer survivors will have received cardiotoxic therapies during primary cancer treatment or relapse. For these survivors, there i...

Global Cancer Care
Issues in Oncology

Chernobyl at 35 Years: An Oncologist’s Perspective

Robert Peter Gale, MD, PhD, DSc (hc), FACP, FRCPI (hon), FRSM  /  May 25, 2021

Editor’s note: Dr. Gale is an authority on medical response to nuclear and radiation accidents and participated in rescue efforts at the Chernobyl disaster, as well as at Goiania, Tokaimura, and Fukushima, among other radiation and nuclear accidents. Anyone reading the popular press or even scienti...


How MRD Assessment May Help Guide Treatment Selection for Patients With AML

Farhad Ravandi, MD  /  May 10, 2021

Complete morphologic remission is considered the first requirement for achieving long-term, leukemia-free survival and a potential cure in patients with acute leukemia, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and is the goal of all therapeutic strategies to date. Recognizing that the majority of pat...

Breast Cancer

Margetuximab-cmkb: A Novel Agent Overshadowed by an Abundance of Options in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, FACP, and Shiliang Zhang, MD  /  May 10, 2021

It is incredible to reflect upon the scientific advances in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer over the past 23 years. Once considered the worst subtype of breast cancer, HER2-positive disease is now associated with the best long-term outcomes in this age of targeted treatments. With a tot...

Solid Tumors

Shared Risk Factors for Preventing Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease: The Evolving Focus of Cardio-oncology

DAWN L. HERSHMAN, MD, MS, FASCO  /  May 10, 2021

Cardio-oncology represents the intersection of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Cancer therapies can result in cardiovascular complications, and some patients become less attentive to their chronic disease management after a diagnosis of cancer. As cancer patients are living longer, for some, thei...

Virtual Meetings Are Here to Stay

NAGI S. EL SAGHIR, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  May 10, 2021

In 2020, the 8th Annual Beirut Breast Cancer Conference (BBCC) was our last in-person meeting. The first cases of COVID-19 started in Lebanon around the end of February 2020, and the pandemic continues into its second year, with waves of rising cases following superspreader events and other likely c...

Head and Neck Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck: Current Status and Future Directions

Dan P. Zandberg, MD  /  May 10, 2021

Although head and neck cancers include multiple histologies and primary sites, squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) originating in the oropharynx, oral cavity, larynx, or hypopharynx are the most common. Today, we recognize different types of head and neck cancers, primarily those that are human papilloma...

Prostate Cancer

PSA Level Prior to Salvage Radiotherapy: Tailoring Delivery of ADT to Men With Prostate Cancer Most Likely to Benefit

Manuj Agarwal, MD  /  Digital Supplement: Genitourinary Cancer Almanac 2020-2021

In a recent article in JAMA Oncology, reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post, Dess et al present an important analysis to help guide decision-making in the setting of salvage radiotherapy in prostate cancer.1 This secondary analysis assessed the association of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels...

Kidney Cancer

Evolving Landscape of First-Line Therapy for Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma

Chung-Han Lee, MD, PhD  /  Digital Supplement: Genitourinary Cancer Almanac 2020-2021

In the past 3 years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the treatment paradigm for first-line therapy for metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Multiple phase III clinical trials have demonstrated improved efficacy with combinations compared with sunitinib, leading to the regulatory approval of ...

Issues in Oncology

To Advance Health Equity, Put Real-World Cancer Data to Work


Despite decades of scientific progress against cancer, access to treatment remains highly unequal. Some of the reasons—like institutional racism and poverty—are a reflection of our broader society. Other inequities may go unrecognized but are no less damaging. People with underlying health condition...

Kidney Cancer

CLEAR Trial: Is Lenvatinib Plus Pembrolizumab the Best First-Line Immunotherapy Doublet in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma?


At the 2021 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Motzer et al presented the clinical results of the CLEAR trial, adding a novel regimen, lenvatinib plus pembrolizu-mab, to the growing armamentarium of first-line treatments for patients with metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The fin...

Lung Cancer

Nivolumab/Ipilimumab Plus Two Cycles of Histology-Based Chemotherapy: Another Option in First-Line Metastatic NSCLC

CHARU AGGARWAL, MD, MPH  /  April 25, 2021

Introduction of immunotherapy has revealed a paradigm shift in the management of patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that does not harbor a therapeutically targetable driver mutation. Over the past 5 years, several trials have informed treatment decisions, based on disease ch...

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Screening With Clinical Breast Examination in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Jame Abraham, MD, FACP  /  April 10, 2021

Globally, breast cancer surpassed lung cancer as the most common cancer among women, with an estimated 2.3 million cases in 2020.1,2 Approximately 685,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2020 around the world. Approximately 24.5% of all cancers in women are breast cancer, and 15.5% of cancer-re...

Kidney Cancer

Pembrolizumab in First-Line Treatment of Metastatic Clear Cell and Non–Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

Matthew R. Zibelman, MD  /  April 10, 2021

The treatment paradigm for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma has undergone a dramatic shift over the past few years, improving outcomes for many patients but leaving many unanswered questions as to how to optimally choose the best treatment for an individual patient. The changes are mo...


Cancer and COVID-19: Reflections at 1 Year

Nancy E. Davidson, MD, FASCO  /  April 10, 2021

We who live and work in Seattle recently took note of two milestones: the first death of a patient from COVID-19 reported in the United States in Seattle on February 28, 2020, and recognition of 5,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the state of Washington on March 2, 2021. The juxtaposition of these two so...

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Susceptibility Genes: Putting the Pieces Together

Nadine M. Tung, MD  /  March 25, 2021

With the widespread use of multigene panels for germline genetic testing, understanding the cancer risks associated with pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants (ie, mutations) has become increasingly necessary. To identify which genes are breast cancer susceptibility genes, population studies that...

Physician-Patient Relationship: Sacred and Sacrosanct

Chandrakanth Are, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FACS  /  March 25, 2021

There are many relationships we build at work in our entire lifetime. Some are good, a few are not, and many are somewhere in between. But of all the relationships we are fortunate enough to build, there is no relationship more valuable and gratifying than the one between a physician and a patient. ...


The Impact of a Pandemic on Mentorship in Medicine

John L. Marshall, MD  /  March 10, 2021

When advising the younger members of our medical community on career decisions, I always list “access to the best mentorship” as the most important priority. By the time we hit residency, we have all proven ourselves able to extract from a book or a journal the facts essential to the practice of m...


How the COVID-19 Pandemic Can Help Improve Cancer Research

Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FASCO, and Nathan A. Pennell, MD, PhD, FASCO  /  February 25, 2021

The ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt in every area of health care. In our medical specialty, oncology, clinical trials of new treatments were upended by COVID-19. In the early months of the pandemic, widespread interruptions in trial enrollment prevented some patients fr...


COVID-19 and Cancer: A Toxic Combination

Richard J. Boxer, MD, FACS  /  February 25, 2021

COVID-19 has caused 475,000 deaths in America, disproportionately among communities of color, poverty, immigrants, and older age. It has exposed a variety of inequities within our health-care system. However, the patients at greatest risk of death from COVID-19 are those with cancer. While 1.8% of A...

Skin Cancer

High-Risk Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinomas: The Present and Future

Adam Sutton, MD, MBA, and Ashley Wysong, MD, MS  /  February 10, 2021

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, with more than 1 million cases diagnosed in the United States annually.1 Historically, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is grouped together with basal cell carcinoma and collectively referred to as nonmelanoma skin can...

Issues in Oncology

Empowering the FDA to Require Dose Optimization of All New Oncology Drugs

Mark J. Ratain, MD, FASCO, and Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO  /  January 25, 2021

The vast majority of drugs used outside of oncology are evaluated in randomized dose-ranging trials to optimize the therapeutic index prior to the pivotal phase III trial. No one would think of dosing a statin or an antibiotic at the highest dose patients could tolerate, especially if that dose resu...

Issues in Oncology

Challenges Related to Informed Consent and Information-Sharing for Minors With Cancer

Govind Persad, JD, PhD  /  December 25, 2020

Here we discuss a complex and often emotionally wrenching challenge related to informed consent in the provision of pediatric cancer care. For example, what legal and ethical claims do young patients have to information about their cancer diagnosis and treatment recommendations? What are the obstacl...


Life and Death Under COVID-19

David Irwin, PhD  /  December 25, 2020

Victoria was a 79-year-old woman living alone in a London suburb. Having no children of her own, she visited us regularly here in the United States. She was one of three sisters and my sister-in-law. I knew her for more than 50 years, and she always reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, both in looks and...

Issues in Oncology

The Problem of ­Heterogeneity Within Stage

Murray F. Brennan, MD, and Mithat Gönen, PhD  /  December 10, 2020

The more senior of this duo grew up with prognostication by disease stage and was taught that all stage IV cancers behaved the same. In the past 3 decades, we have become much more cognizant of the heterogeneity in outcome within stage. Individual Kaplan-Meier plots by stage separate well but hide t...


What Is the Measure of Minimal Residual Disease in AML?

Jerald P. Radich, MD  /  December 10, 2020

Relapse is the primary obstacle to cure in leukemia. The term minimal residual disease (MRD) was coined in the early 1990s to describe finding a disease-specific marker in the context of a morphologic-appearing remission. The technique first used for MRD detection was the Southern blot (!), but the ...


Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Care in India

Rakesh Chopra, MD; Kavita Yadav, BDS, MPH; and Ravi Mehrotra, MD, DPhil, FRCPath  /  November 25, 2020

With the announcement of a complete nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a lot of unprecedented events came into being in India. The National Health Mission reported a 69% reduction in measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in children; a 21% reduction in ...


What Is ‘Quality Oncology Care’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Kathryn Hudson, MD  /  November 25, 2020

My patient with metastatic colon cancer was sitting across from me after being absent for several months. His cancer had been under excellent control on chemotherapy, but now he was having worse pain and shortness of breath. Despite our calls, he had not kept his appointments. We were 6 feet apart, ...

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer: Precision Therapies at the Forefront

Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  November 10, 2020

What a difference 20 years have made! In the year 2000, the results of the ECOG 1594 trial were reported at the plenary session of the ASCO Annual Meeting. The study demonstrated comparable outcomes between four different platinum-based chemotherapy regimens for the treatment of metastatic non–small...

Breast Cancer

Beyond BROCADE3: Just the Beginning for Veliparib-Based Therapy in Advanced BRCA-Mutated Breast Cancer

Martine Piccart, MD, PhD  /  November 10, 2020

As recently reported in The Lancet Oncology and reviewed in the October 10, 2020, issue of The ASCO Post, the phase III BROCADE3 trial has shown that the addition of veliparib to carboplatin and paclitaxel improved progression-free survival in previously treated BRCA-mutated advanced breast cancer.1...

Breast Cancer

Should Body Mass Index Guide the Choice of Chemotherapy in Patients With Breast Cancer?

Kristen Whitaker, MD, MS, and Lori J. Goldstein, MD, FASCO  /  October 25, 2020

The rate of obesity is rising dramatically in the United States and Europe, with more than 60% of women in the United States1,2 and 50% of women in Europe3 classified as overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI). Obesity is associated with an increased risk of hormone receptor–pos...


COVID-19, Cancer, and the Older Adult

Erika Ramsdale, MD, Supriya Mohile, MD, and the Cancer and Aging Research Group  /  October 25, 2020

An inspiring case series of fit patients aged 98 and older who recovered from hospitalization for COVID-19, published by Huang et al, reminds us that older age may not be a barrier to recovery.1 On behalf of the Cancer and Aging Research Group, we do not support “ageism” in the care of older adu...

Gynecologic Cancers

The Gut, Our Choices, and Gynecologic Cancers: Investigating an Unlikely Trio

Nathalie D. McKenzie, MD, MSPH, FACOG, DipABLM  /  October 25, 2020

Disturbance of the gut microbial metabolism is thought to be the root cause of human diseases. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi affect their human hosts in numerous ways. There is evidence to support the theory that microbes, through their genetic makeup, gene products, and metabolites, play a role in h...

Issues in Oncology

Mobilizing for Greater Equity in Health Care Despite the Challenges of COVID-19

Princess Dina Mired  /  October 10, 2020

The lockdown phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and continued measures, such as social distancing, while necessary, are disrupting cancer care in ways that will have consequences for months, if not years, to come. Studies are showing that delayed or suspended cancer treatments, screenings,...

The New Face of Medical Visits

Rujuta Saksena, MD  /  September 25, 2020

“Good morning! I’m Dr. Saksena. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I wave my introduction as I enter the room. Two women sit beside each other. One of them wears a mask that reads “lipstick optional,” and the other dons a surgical mask. This is a new visit for breast cancer, but I haven’t yet deciphered ...

Breast Cancer

Neratinib in Previously Treated HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer: Point of View From the NALA Trial

Kimberley T. Lee, MD, MHS, and Cesar A. Santa-Maria, MD, MSCI  /  September 25, 2020

Neratinib is an oral pan-HER tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for two indications. The first is as adjuvant treatment of early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer following adjuvant trastuzumab therapy. The second is in combination with cape...

Issues in Oncology

Developing Policies to Address Patient Racial Bias and Race-Based Provider Requests

Govind Persad, JD, PhD  /  September 10, 2020

Public momentum for efforts to address structural and systemic racism has led many health-care institutions to consider how they can work to bring about positive change. In this column, drawing on important recent work by Kimani Paul-Emile, JD, PhD, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of...

Skin Cancer

Growing Body of Evidence Supports Adjuvant Immunotherapy for Stage IV Melanoma With No Evidence of Disease

Pauline Funchain, MD  /  September 10, 2020

With incredibly paced approvals and clinical advancements in the systemic therapy of cutaneous melanoma, the efficacy of immunotherapy in this disease is clear. However, many important questions remain regarding timing and dosing—in other words, which drug (or drugs) makes the most sense and in whic...


A Moment to Pause, Reflect, and Act Amid a Pandemic

Rosa Nouvini, MD  /  September 10, 2020

In this period of time, more than ever before, I feel the dichotomy of being a non-Hispanic White American vs a person of color. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, I rode the subway to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Ralph Lauren Cancer Center clinic in Harlem, where I was often the only White person on ...

Pet Therapy: How the Cat I Never Wanted Saved My Life

Fumiko Chino, MD  /  August 25, 2020

My husband and I adopted our cat, Franklin, on a cold November day. It was one of the last days Andrew felt well enough to leave the house to go anywhere other than to chemotherapy or a doctor’s appointment. Our news at these appointments had shifted toward the negative, with disease progression o...

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Switch Control Inhibitor for GISTs Harboring Drug-Resistance Mutations: The INVICTUS Trial

Heikki Joensuu, MD, PhD  /  August 25, 2020

In May 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ripretinib for patients who have received prior treatment with three or more kinase inhibitors, including imatinib, for advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). The approval was largely based on the findings of the randomize...

Skin Cancer

Adding Immunotherapy to BRAF/MEK Inhibition in BRAF V600–Mutant Melanoma: First Step on the Journey

Omid Hamid, MD  /  August 25, 2020

As investigators, we were always determined to find the drug to work with BRAF/MEK inhibitor combination therapy. It had come on like a storm and showed us that we could help even those with the most advanced metastatic melanoma, as long as it harbored the magical BRAF V600E mutation.1 Unfortunate...