Look Out Chicago – Fight CRC is Coming to the ASCO Annual Meeting!

We are please to have an awesome staff presence at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting  and even more pleased to have blogging for us: Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D. Chris is an economist at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. He conducts academic-style research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Marketing Science, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Economics Letters, Health Affairs, Health Economics and the International Journal of Industrial Organization. Expect many similar high quality posts highlighting ASCO happenings and events, so without further adieu – take it away Chris!

I’m very excited because in two weeks I will be traveling to one of my favorite cities, Chicago, to attend my first American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference. This is an enormous conference, with some 30,000 doctors and researchers attending.

I will be attending as a “patient advocate” representing Fight Colorectal Cancer and the Focus on Research.
ASCO recently whet our appetites by releasing summaries of the 5,000 different research projects that will be presented at the conference. ASCO’s patient advocacy program had a webinar discussing 5 of the most interesting research results. These projects discussed some of the latest ideas in cancer research including finding drugs that are effective against particular cancers not because of the cancer’s location but because of the cancer’s gene mutation. Other work suggests the combining new therapies may be more effective than the drugs would be on their own, including reduced side effects.

Two projects stood out to me. The first was a study using a relatively old drug called Olanzapine (Zyprexa) (get details here). You may guess from the name that this is an anti-psychotic. It had been noticed that patients taking this drug suffered from weight gain. The researchers wondered if it might therefore help chemo patients suffering from nausea. The answer seems to be yes. However, this was a small study. An interesting question is how whether the researchers will be able to find the large sum of money needed to run a larger trial. The drug went generic in 2011 so it is unlikely a drug company would be willing to spend the money on the trials in order to get the FDA to approve the drug for reducing chemo related nausea. I asked, but the webinar speakers did not know about whether the drug caused hiccups.

The second study did not actually look at a new (or even an old) therapy but rather looked at what oncologists and primary care physicians knew about the long terms side effects (“late effects”) of treatments for colorectal cancer and breast cancer (get details here).

These late effects may include neuropathy or even cancer. The answer was that primary care physicians didn’t necessarily know that much about these things. In the webinar there was an interesting discussion about communication between oncologists and primary care physicians and efforts by ASCO and others to improve that communication. A big takeaway for me was that I need to start collecting information from my oncologist so that I can give it to my primary care physician or physicians as they see me over the next 10, 20?, 30??? years.

Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D.

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