Issues in Oncology

United Against Cancer to Accelerate Progress for Patients

Howard A. ‘Skip’ Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  May 25, 2020

When I chose my Presidential theme for the 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting, “Unite and Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together,” in early 2019, I never imagined it would take on a new meaning 12 months later. The world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and, even as we practice social distancing, I c...

Gynecologic Cancers

PARP Inhibitors in Maintenance Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

David M. O’Malley, MD, and Antonio Castaneda, MD  /  May 10, 2020

Based on multiple phase III prospective trials, there is evidence that both PARP inhibitors and antiangiogenic therapies such as bevacizumab provide benefit when utilized in a maintenance strategy in the first-line treatment of advanced epithelial ovarian cancer (GOG 218, ICON7, SOLO-1, PRIMA, VELIA...

Hematologic Malignancies

Conference Highlights From the 2018 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition

Krishna Gundabolu, MBBS  /  February 25, 2019 - Supplement: Conference Highlights ASH 2018

In sunny San Diego, the 2018 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition welcomed nearly 30,000 attendees who were eager to present, learn, network, and cheer the joint achievements of many researchers. The packed meeting was filled with important information from thousand...

Issues in Oncology

Evolving Standards and Quality Metrics Ensure High-Quality Cancer Programs

Lawrence N. Shulman, MD  /  May 10, 2018

Dr. Shulman is Deputy Director, Clinical Services, and Director of the Center for Global Cancer Medicine, Abramson Cancer Center; and Professor of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. IN 2008, WHEN ALLEN LICHTER, MD, FASCO, then Chief Executive Officer of ASCO, call...

A Tribute to Two Amazing Scientists

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD  /  April 10, 2018

Dr. Collins is Director of the National Institutes of Health. Originally posted on March 19, 2018, to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Blog (https://directorsblog.  OVER THE PAST couple of weeks, we’ve lost two legendary scientists who made major contributions to our w...

Prostate Cancer

New Agents for Initial Treatment of Metastatic Prostate Cancer: A New Standard of Care?

Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, FASCO  /  March 10, 2018

FOR DECADES, the status of metastatic prostate cancer trials was not particularly exciting. With an absence of high-impact novel agents, the focus of cancer trial groups was on the improvement of standard care. Well-crafted, large trials of hormonal therapy demonstrated the utility of combined and...

Health-Care Policy

Why Right-to-Try Laws Are Dangerous

Ellen V. Sigal, PhD  /  March 5, 2018 - Special Report

Why wouldn’t you support a patient with a terminal illness the “right to try” any therapy that may save his or her life? The answer to this question—one engulfed in a political debate in Congress—seems simple. It is not. [Editor’s Note: On May 30, 2018, the President signed into law the Trickett W...

Alexander Fleming Would Have Loved Our Success With Cancer Immunotherapy

John F. Smyth, MD  /  December 25, 2017

THE UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh Medical School was established in 1726 during the Scottish Enlightenment. As one of the oldest medical schools in the English-speaking world, it is interesting to reflect on the seminal contributions made centuries ago by several alumni that are still relevant to the pr...

Gynecologic Cancers

PARP Inhibitors in BRCA-Related Ovarian Cancer—and Beyond!

Ursula A. Matulonis, MD  /  November 25, 2017

Poly (ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors are among the most exciting new classes of oncology drugs, and their development has coincided with the increasing recognition of the therapeutic vulnerability in targeting DNA damage response and DNA repair. The initial clinical testing of PARP inhibit...

Issues in Oncology

Smashing the Glass Ceiling in Medicine

Elizabeth L. Travis, PhD, FASTRO, and Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD  /  October 25, 2017

IT IS A SAD TRUTH that academic medicine, like many other professions, has a glass ceiling that hampers its ambitions. In medicine, this glass ceiling blocks women and minority faculty from reaching the highest ranks of leadership. Even if the root cause is not yet known, we want to eliminate th...

Issues in Oncology

Can We Have a Successful Vaccine Against Cancer?

Electra D. Paskett, PhD  /  October 10, 2017

EARLY IN our careers, few of us imagined that a vaccine could one day prevent cancer. Now, there is a vaccine that keeps the risks from human papillomavirus (HPV) at bay, and yet universal adoption of the HPV vaccine has been incomplete. As a result of misinformation about the vaccine—and its admi...

Issues in Oncology

Adoptive Cell Therapy—Act 1: The Beginning

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD  /  September 25, 2017

ON AUGUST 30, 2017, the first genetically engineered T-cell therapy (tisagenlecleucel [Kymriah]) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia that is refractory or in second or lat...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy
Global Cancer Care
Cost of Care

For the Impoverished, Health Care Is a Luxury

Chandrakanth Are, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FACS  /  September 10, 2017

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and the global burden is on an inexorably upward trajectory. For the year 2012, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.1 It is predicted that by the year 2035, there will be 23.9 million new canc...

Issues in Oncology

Fighting Misinformation in HPV-Related Cancer Prevention

Lois Ramondetta, MD  /  August 25, 2017

FAKE NEWS, junk science, and alternative facts seem pervasive in our current culture, to the detriment of important, verified scientific advancements. One area where this is quite evident is the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). Although we have had a safe, effective vaccine since 2006 t...

Issues in Oncology

Tissue Specimens in Clinical Trials: A Double-Edged Sword

Apar Kishor Ganti, MD, MS, FACP  /  August 10, 2017

AN INCREASING number of clinical trials require the submission of tissue specimens, either from archived specimens or increasingly from fresh biopsies taken after enrollment into the trial. These specimens can be either mandatory, required to determine whether a given patient has the required biom...

Health-Care Policy

Maintaining Predictable Increases in NIH Funding for Cancer Research

Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  July 25, 2017

CONGRESS RECENTLY passed its fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill, which contains an additional $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This marks the first time in more than a dozen years that Congress funded back-to-back increases for the NIH, demonstrating the bipartisan consensu...

Cost of Care

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biosimilars and Cost in Oncology

Kevin Knopf, MD, MPH, and Charles Bennett, MD, PhD, MPP  /  July 10, 2017

Biosimilars are biologic products similar to the parent (branded) molecule in structure and function—such as erythropoietin and filgrastim (Neupogen).1 To truly bend the cost curve, we want to see a dramatic economic savings achieved as oncology biosimilars for rituximab (Rituxan), trastuzumab (...

Global Cancer Care

Will the UK’s Departure From the EU Impact Oncology in Europe?

John F. Smyth, MD  /  June 25, 2017

“No man is an island entire of itself; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  —John Donne (1624) This statement is almost certainly true—and sadly in a negative way not just for the UK but for ...

My Year of Living Wonderfully: 12 Months as ASCO President

Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  May 25, 2017

EACH YEAR, the ASCO President chooses a theme for his or her term, which is not a trivial pursuit. Trying to think up something novel and catchy, yet not schmaltzy, is quite a challenge. However, in my year as Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting, th...

Breast Cancer

FALCON Trial Informs the Evolving Role of Fulvestrant in Advanced Hormone Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer

Aman U. Buzdar, MD, FACP  /  March 10, 2017

Endocrine therapy for breast cancer has evolved over the years. Initial endocrine therapies consisted of ablative procedures (oophorectomy, adrenalectomy, and hypophysectomy). With the availability of pharmaceutical estrogens, progestins, and androgens, ablative procedure utilization begin to decr...

Health-Care Policy

Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act: The Final Rule

Philip J. Stella, MD  /  December 10, 2016

It is gratifying to see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does listen to public comments regarding new proposals. Since CMS opened the comment period for its Quality Payment Program, which repeals the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula and was proposed to implement the ...

Breast Cancer

Another Step Forward for Genomic Assays in Early-Stage Breast Cancer: Findings With MammaPrint in the MINDACT Trial

Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD  /  November 25, 2016

Genomic assays have had a powerful influence on the management of early-stage breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor–positive tumors. The mainstay of adjuvant treatment for early-stage, hormone receptor–positive breast cancer has been endocrine therapy, either with tamoxifen and a...

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...

Lung Cancer

Incorporating Immunotherapy Into Treatment of Early-Stage NSCLC

Neal Ready, MD, PhD  /  August 10, 2020

There is a strong rationale for incorporating immunotherapy into the treatment of early-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), given the breakthrough results with PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors as monotherapy, combined with immunotherapy, or combined with chemotherapy in advanced-stage NSCLC. As revi...


The Need for Solid Data During a Global Pandemic

Giorgio V. Scagliotti, MD, PhD  /  July 25, 2020

The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 disease on a global scale found the community of clinicians and scientists largely unprepared to face the devastating effects of the pandemic. The stress on health-care systems revealed their weaknesses and brought about associated financial crises. Defining the cli...


April Is the Cruelest Month

Jame Abraham, MD, FACP  /  May 10, 2020

April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. —T.S. Eliot, The Burial of the Dead, The Waste Land, 1922 I start...

Hematologic Malignancies

Gut Bacterial Diversity: A Marker or Driver of Outcomes After Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation?

David N. Fredricks, MD  /  April 25, 2020

Previous single-center studies have linked the gut microbiota (via stool sample analysis) to outcomes after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), such as overall mortality, transplant-related mortality, graft-vs-host disease, and graft-vs-host–related mortality.1-4 Although intriguing, these stu...


Practicing Oncology in the Era of COVID-19

Chandrakanth Are, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FACS  /  April 10, 2020

The coronavirus-related pandemic has affected nearly every corner of the globe. What originated in one country is on course to likely affect every country in the world. In a few countries, the disease has peaked and is on the downward trend. In some, including the United States, the disease is on th...

Issues in Oncology

Practicing Wellness to Reduce Burnout

Nathalie D. McKenzie, MD, MSPH, and Sarfraz Ahmad, PhD  /  January 25, 2020

Numerous wellness strategies are accessible to busy physicians and oncologists, which can be incorporated into their daily routine. Here we discuss such aspects as stress reduction, mindfulness, eating well, sleeping well, and spirituality for the wellness of oncologists. Those who regularly adhere ...

Kidney Cancer

Front-Line Therapy in Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma: Developing a New Standard

Rana R. McKay, MD  /  May 10, 2019

THE FRONT-LINE systemic treatment landscape for metastatic renal cell carcinoma has undergone tremendous movement over the past several years. A better understanding of the current management paradigm for therapy-naive patients warrants a reflection of historic landmark clinical trials that have c...

Hematologic Malignancies

The Relevance of the RELEVANCE Trial in Follicular Lymphoma

Jonathan W. Friedberg, MD, MMSc  /  October 10, 2018

We have seen remarkable progress in the outcomes of patients with advanced-stage follicular lymphoma over the past 2 decades.1 Recent manuscripts and presentations describing long-term follow-up of randomized trials comparing various chemotherapy platforms (all combined with anti-CD20 antibodies) ...

Prostate Cancer

Treating Nonmetastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer: Implications of the PROSPER Trial

Konrad H. Stopsack, MD, MPH, and Philip Kantoff, MD  /  September 10, 2018

A MAN in his early 70s sits in our office. His general health is good, and he is feeling well. Yet he is deeply worried. Four years ago, when his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level rapidly increased after radical prostatectomy and subsequent radiation therapy, he was started on androgen-depri...

Solid Tumors
Breast Cancer

Treatment of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer With BRCA1/2 Mutations: More to Learn From Ongoing Trials

William J. Gradishar, MD, FASCO, FACP  /  September 25, 2018

The treatment of triple-negative breast cancer remains a clinical challenge with no single validated target, though numerous pathways are druggable and are being investigated. In the subset of BRCA-mutated triple-negative breast cancer, the approval of the first poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) i...

Issues in Oncology

Why Oncologists Should Decline to Participate in the Right to Try Act

Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD  /  August 10, 2018

ON MAY 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017.1 This law creates an additional and alternative pathway for patients with a “life-threatening disease or condition” to access investigational...

Hematologic Malignancies

Promise and Challenges of CAR T-Cell Therapy for Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma: ZUMA-1 Trial Results

Kieron Dunleavy, MD  /  April 25, 2018

Advancing therapeutics and augmenting curability in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) have been very challenging. Although many novel approaches have offered promise and continue to be developed, we have not yet identified a clearly superior approach to R-CHOP (rituximab [Rituxan], cyclophospham...

Breast Cancer

A New Triumvirate in Estrogen Receptor–Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer

Neil Vasan, MD, PhD, and Maura N. Dickler, MD  /  August 10, 2017

THE BODY OF EVIDENCE supporting the use of cell-cycle inhibitors in combination with endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor–positive metastatic breast cancer now has another agent in the spotlight. The phase III MONARCH 2 trial—reported at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting and by Sledge et al in the...

Pancreatic Cancer

Recent Progress and Concepts in Pancreatic Cancer

Robert Peter Gale, MD, PhD, DSc(hc), FACP, FRSM  /  November 25, 2016

November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, the impetus for this article. Pancreatic cancer is a huge health challenge. It's the eighth most common cancer in the United States and the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths but is expected to become the second most common c...

Prostate Cancer

Risk of Metastasis With Active Monitoring in PSA-Detected Localized Prostate Cancer: The ProtectT Trial

Anthony V. D’Amico, MD, PhD  /  October 10, 2016

The ProtecT study findings1 are provocative. Despite having a control arm of active monitoring with serial prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, as compared with watchful waiting in the prior randomized trials (ie, SPCG-42 and PIVOT3), and also enrolling men with more favorable-risk d...

Lung Cancer

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors March to First-Line Treatment in Advanced NSCLC

Karen Kelly, MD  /  September 25, 2016

For the majority of patients who are diagnosed with advanced-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), platinum-based doublets have been the standard of care for over 30 years. Recently, the immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) demonstrated superio...

Prostate Cancer

Hypofractionated Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer: A New Standard of Care?

Talha Shaikh, MD, and Eric M. Horwitz, MD  /  September 10, 2016

For at least the past quarter of a century, radiobiologists and radiation oncologists have debated the role of hypofractionation (fewer total fractions with a higher dose per fraction) for prostate cancer. The debate stems from the unique radiobiology of prostate cancer and the best means to e...

Lung Cancer

The POPLAR Trial: PD-L1 Blockade With Atezolizumab in Second- or Third-Line Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

Jean-Charles Soria, MD, PhD  /  April 10, 2016

The randomized phase II ­POPLAR trial—reported by Fehrenbacher and colleagues and reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post—is another key piece of information for the medical community regarding the value of immune checkpoint blockers in second/third-line treatment of patients with non–small cell lun...


Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: The Golden Drug Only for Golden Agers?

Stephan Stilgenbauer, MD, PhD  /  March 25, 2016

As reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post, Burger and colleagues recently reported findings of the RESONATE-2 trial of ibrutinib (Imbruvica) vs chlorambucil (Leukeran) as initial therapy for elderly patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).1 The study met its primary endpoint of independent...

Cost of Care

The 340B Drug Pricing Program: Background, Concerns, and Solutions

Hagop Kantarjian, MD, and Robert Chapman, MD  /  January 25, 2016

The 340B Drug Pricing Program was created by Congress through the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to allow some health-care entities—including safety-net providers with large shares of uninsured and low-income patients and other “covered entities”—to obtain drugs at discounted prices.1,2 Congress g...

Issues in Oncology

Filial Gaze at Our Noble Profession

Chandrakanth Are, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FACS  /  December 10, 2015

As we stood outside patient X’s room going over the vitals, from a distance, I saw the father of the patient by the side of her bed. I saw him standing there and looking down at his child conveying what I guess were words of reassurance and reinforcing the pillars of strength needed for her recovery...


Does Low-Dose Radiation Cause Leukemia?

Robert Peter Gale MD, PhD, DSc(hc), FACP, FRSM, and F. Owen Hoffman, PhD  /  November 25, 2015

Data from A-bomb survivors, persons with ankylosing spondylitis and neoplasms treated with radiation therapy, and many other sources show a strong association between exposure to ionizing radiation (particles or electromagnetic waves with sufficient energy to cause an ionization such as photons and ...

Multiple Myeloma

Elotuzumab Ushers in a New Era in Myeloma Therapy

S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD  /  September 10, 2015

The long wait for monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of multiple myeloma is over. In the landmark ELOQUENT-2 study, reviewed in this issue of The ASCO Post, Lonial and colleagues convincingly demonstrate the effectiveness of elotuzumab, a monoclonal antibody directed against SLAMF7, in the trea...

Lung Cancer

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: The Dawn of a New Era for Lung Cancer Therapy

Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD  /  August 25, 2015

The therapeutic paradigm for lung cancer has changed rapidly over the past few years toward individualized therapy. For certain subsets of patients, molecularly targeted agents have resulted in robust gains in overall survival and quality of life. However, for the majority of patients with nonsquamo...

Breast Cancer
Issues in Oncology

PRIME II and the Omission of Radiation Therapy in Low-Risk, Elderly Patients Undergoing Breast Conservation: The Time Has Come

Meena S. Moran, MD  /  April 25, 2015

Despite the high prevalence of breast cancer worldwide, it is important to recognize that > 40% of all cases occur in women aged 65 years or older in both the United States and the United Kingdom.1,2 Breast cancers in older patients are more often associated with indolent features and with overal...

Issues in Oncology

Clinical Trial Participation: ‘Is It All Worth It?’

Lee M. Krug, MD  /  April 10, 2015

Clinical trials have become increasingly complex over the past several years, and unfortunately, this has resulted in the typical scenario described below. We are fortunate that there are so many promising agents available for patients, and we want to encourage their participation in clinical trials...

Issues in Oncology

Big Data and the Promise of Precision Medicine in Cancer

Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO  /  March 10, 2015

Precision medicine—and its promise to revolutionize how we understand disease and care for our patients—is a concept that oncology has understood and embraced for well over a decade. But millions of Americans recently heard about the concept for the first time when President Obama announced a high-p...