Fred Hutch experts highlight research on cancer treatment advances, survivorship and precision oncology at ASCO

At the 2023 American Society for Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting—to be held June 2-6 in Chicago, Illinois—Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center experts will present research spanning survivorship, advances in treatments and clinical trials, how access to cancer care affects outcomes, integrative medicine and more.

Featured Fred Hutch presentations and poster sessions are listed below; for a full list of Fred Hutch research at ASCO and the dates and times of presentations, please visit our website. For media inquiries at ASCO, please contact Claire Hudson at [email protected]. You can follow our researchers on Twitter #ASCO23 and visit us at booth #4023.

Equitable access to cancer care

Dr. Hiba Khan will present an oral abstract assessing the impact of financial distress, as evidenced in credit records, on cancer survival. Researchers in Fred Hutch’s Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, or HICOR, found that patients with cancer who experienced severe adverse financial events, such as third-party collections, delinquent mortgage payments, tax liens, foreclosures or repossessions within two years of diagnosis were at higher risk for mortality after adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical factors.

Additional research on health equity and access includes:

  • An analysis showing that adverse financial events resulted in increased health care utilization and greater per-patient costs at end of life, in a poster session from led by Dr. Natasha Kwendakwema of HICOR.
  • Dr. Scott Ramsey and the HICOR team followed cancer patients using smartwatches and apps to monitor symptoms and biometric data during treatment. In a poster session, they share that compared to commercially-insured cancer patients, financially fragile and Medicaid-insured patients had significantly higher average heart rates, unique symptoms and repeat symptoms.
  • A study revealing health disparities in access to molecular testing that inform the use of targeted therapies in patients with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer. In a poster session led by Dr. Lauren Shih, HICOR researchers found testing rates were lowest among Hispanic patients, older patients, males and people with Medicaid insurance.
  • A poster session, led by Qin Sun of HICOR, in which researchers found underuse of germline testing in patients with prostate, pancreas and ovarian cancers, despite guideline recommendations. Lack of germline testing not only can affect treatment, it’s also a missed opportunity to identify genetic risk factors in family members.

Clinical trials and treatment advances

Dr. Noam Kopmar and colleagues sought to understand the potential benefit of adding an antibody drug conjugate to frontline therapy to treat patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia or lymphoma. In an oral presentation, Dr. Kopmar will explain findings that adding the antibody drug was not only safe, but response rates in patients were among the highest reported to date and many patients were able to proceed to bone marrow transplant.

In a SWOG Cancer Research Network analysis, presented in an oral abstract by Dr. Megan Othus, a research team found that a common system for measuring tumor progression in clinical trials didn’t adequately correspond to outcomes in patients with rare cancers treated with checkpoint inhibitors in the S1609 DART trial. These findings are consistent with similar studies of the use of this measuring system in patients treated with chemotherapy.

In an oral presentation, Dr. Shailender Bhatia will present findings from a Phase 2 clinical trial in metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma patients that assessed nivolumab monotherapy and nivolumab plus ipilimumab combination in two non-randomized cohorts respectively. The results do not suggest additional benefit from nivolumab plus ipilimumab in this patient population, contrary to a recent publication that had reported 100% response rate with combination therapy.

Experts will share more from the following treatment studies:

  • A five-year follow up study combining standard of care plus a checkpoint inhibitor in patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, supporting potential inclusion of checkpoint inhibitors in first line DLBCL therapy and exploring the role of PD-L1 as a predictive biomarker in a poster session led by Dr. Carrie Ho.
  • How combining hypofractionated radiation with checkpoint inhibitors may benefit patients with metastatic salivary gland cancers, in a poster session led by Dr. Cristina Rodriguez.
  • Results from a Phase 1 study testing the combination of anti-CD73 and anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies to treat metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma that found the regimen was safe and indicated a trend toward improved outcomes, led by Dr. Andrew Coveler in a poster session.
  • Dr. Laura Samples and collaborators characterized the challenges in using CAR T-cell therapy to treat patients with relapsed or refractory Burkitt lymphoma, a rare and highly aggressive B-cell lymphoma, in a poster session.
  • Results from a survey conducted by an American Society of Clinical Oncology and Friends of Cancer Research task force, chaired by Dr. Joseph Unger, showed that strategies such as remote distribution of oral therapy, remote consenting and remote symptom monitoring were commonly adopted by major cancer clinical trial sponsors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings will be presented in a poster session.
  • Led by Dr. Bart Scott, in a poster session, researchers found that overall survival rates for patients with acute myeloid leukemia were not impacted during the pandemic, but that increased COVID-19 rates in the U.S. correlated with fewer transfusions, in-person visits and assessments for stem cell transplant.
  • Factors associated with durable response from a five-year follow up in patients who received CD19 CAR T-cell therapy for relapsed and refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, in a poster session led by Dr. Emily Liang.

Survivorship

Pediatric cancer patients who receive certain therapies are at an increased risk of heart disease later in life. Dr. Eric Chow will present an oral abstract of a Children’s Oncology Group study that found a better method to predict which pediatric cancer patients will develop heart disease years after treatment. Prediction models that incorporate conventional heart measurements may be able to accurately identify childhood cancer patients at high risk of developing heart disease within 2-5 years, giving care teams a potential window of opportunity to provide treatments that can slow or stop heart disease progression.

Precision oncology

Dr. Manoj Menon will share insights in a poster session from a study that conducted molecular testing on breast cancer tumors from patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute. The research team found a diverse range of mutations and prevalence of BRCA1, BRCA2 and PIK3CA mutations that were considerably higher than in other documented populations. This data could inform wider use of targeted therapies in sub-Saharan Africa, where breast cancer is the most common cancer, and make the case for including targeted cancer therapies in the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines.

Dr. Ruben Raychaudhuri and collaborators investigated targeted therapies for people with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) with DNA damage repair alterations in two studies. One poster session will explore how mutations in DNA damage repair genes may affect PSMA expression and response to PSMA targeted radioligand therapy. A second poster session will detail two-year follow up results from a single arm pilot study also focused on patients with DNA damage repair alterations. In this study, researchers found that the addition of the DNA damaging agent carboplatin to standard of care docetaxel significantly improved response rates.

Integrative medicine

In patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, researchers tested the feasibility and efficacy of in-office acupuncture to reduce pain and urinary symptoms during induction intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). In a poster session, led by Dr. Sarah Psutka, researchers observed improvements in urinary symptoms and a suggestion of a reduction in pain scores over successive treatments in the patients who received acupuncture.

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