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July 19, 2021

2021 ASCO Annual Meeting highlights promising new strategies and treatments for genitourinary cancers and melanoma

In Skin Cancer, Cancer Treatment, ASCO Highlights, Kidney Cancer, Prostate Cancer

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The ASCO Annual Meeting highlights new strategies yearly that prevent cancer relapse and improve survival for already-advanced disease, which are both extremely meaningful outcomes for people with any type of cancer.

The plenary session of this year’s virtual ASCO conference highlighted key advances in treatments for kidney and prostate cancers, with late-breaking results of large phase 3 clinical trials showing outcomes that will likely lead to new FDA approvals and influence clinical practice in the near future. We learned that giving immunotherapy after kidney cancer surgery can decrease the risk of recurrence and that a novel radiopharmaceutical drug can prolong survival in patients with advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer.

We additionally learned that a new combination of immunotherapy agents has been shown to improve survival in individuals with metastatic melanoma, possibly soon representing a new standard of care.

An immunotherapy agent that prevents relapse in high-risk kidney cancer

Individuals with high-risk kidney cancer may relapse after surgery, which correlates with poor survival. The phase 3 KEYNOTE-564 clinical trial evaluated the benefit of giving the immunotherapy agent pembrolizumab after the surgical removal of the kidney cancer and found that postoperative pembrolizumab improves disease-free survival compared to a placebo. The study investigators reported that these results support pembrolizumab as a potential new standard of care for patients with high-risk kidney cancer in the adjuvant (postoperative) setting.

A novel therapy for difficult-to-treat advanced castrate-resistant prostate cancer

Although there have been recent advances in the treatment of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (cancer that has become resistant to androgen [hormone] deprivation therapy), the disease is inevitably fatal, presenting an urgent need to improve on the current treatment armamentarium. At the 2021 ASCO plenary session, Dr. Michael Morris of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reported the results of the phase 3 VISION clinical trial that the novel radionuclide agent 177-Lutetium-PSMA-617 (177Lu-PSMA-617) significantly improves progression-free survival and overall survival in men with advanced-stage castrate-resistant prostate cancer who have already been treated with chemotherapy and androgen-deprivation therapy strategies.

Because of the exciting results of the VISION trial, 177Lu-PSMA-617 may soon find its place in the oncology clinic as a valued treatment option for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

A new immunotherapy combination improves survival in advanced melanoma

Investigators of the phase 3 RELATIVITY-047 clinical trial reported that a new immunotherapy drug (a LAG-3 inhibitor) called relatlimab in combination with nivolumab in the first-line setting for patients with advanced melanoma improved progression-free survival to 10 months, compared to 4.6 months with nivolumab alone (which is a current standard of care). The relatlimab-nivolumab combination was well-tolerated, with minimal added toxicity compared to nivolumab alone. While overall survival data is pending, the current findings may excitingly change current clinical practice.

2021 ASCO showcased new therapies and combinations that have demonstrated strong improvements in outcomes through the rigor of well-designed clinical trials. With these results, these therapies may soon make their way through the regulatory process and into the clinic to benefit patients everywhere. AccessHope is privileged to serve as a critical bridge between cutting-edge developments such as these and the community oncology practices delivering care to the populations who need it the most. Together, we can improve access to the best treatment insights that people and their loved ones deserve.


This post was authored by Dr. Debra Wong.

Learn more about Dr. Wong.

Last updated July 19, 2021

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