The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) brings together more than 30,000 members of the oncology community, including providers, researchers, advocates and industry to discuss the status of cancer treatment, prevention, research and policy. Carolyn Aldig′, Jamie Cooper and I had the pleasure of attending the meeting this year on behalf of the Prevent Cancer Foundation and witnessing the energy and passion of those in the cancer community for making progress toward better prevention, treatment and cure for the disease.
While much of the meeting focused on new therapies and strategies in treatment – as you might expect when you get so many oncologists together in the same city- there was significant news in prevention as well, ranging from discussions of biomarkers and other novel approaches to prevention and risk reduction. Probably the biggest news with respect to prevention was the success in clinical studies of a hormone-blocking drug for reduction of breast cancer risk. This trial represents the first time that a drug within this category of aromatase inhibitors has been tested in healthy women for prevention of breast cancer as opposed to treatment.
Study leader Dr. Paul Goss of Massachusetts General Hospital, reported on results of the prevention study involving 4,560 women from the U.S., Canada, Spain and France. They had at least one risk factor — being 60 or older, a prior breast abnormality or pre-invasive cancer, or a high score on a scale that takes into account family history and other things.
Results showed a 65 percent reduction in risk for those on the drug vs. the placebo, offering Page 1 of 1millions of women at higher-than-usual risk of breast cancer a new option for preventing the disease, perhaps with less negative side effects than other breast cancer chemopreventive options.
And on the lighter side of the meeting, Prevent Cancer Foundation was pleased be the beneficiary of a concert at the House of Blues in Chicago, featuring the Oncotones, a band consisting of several professional musicians accompanied by members of the oncology community including Prevent Cancer Foundation board member Kathryn West. The concert benefits our Breakaway from Cancer campaign, raising more than $8,000 for Prevent Cancer and our Breakaway from Cancer partners.
Additional news from the ASCO annual meeting can be found on the meeting website.