The Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) team, along with patient and research advocates made the trek from near and far to attend the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 2018 annual meeting, held in one of the largest convention centers in North America to gain a better understanding of current research in colorectal cancer. Why? To relay relevant information back to the Colorectal Cancer (CRC) community and to plan how we can best support the science.

If you want an in-depth update on the most relevant research findings from this conference, join the Fight CRC webinar on June 21 at 3:30 PM EST. Dr. Richard M. Goldberg, the Director of the West Virginia University Cancer Center and Fight CRC medical advisory board member, will be unpacking the research and discussing what the findings mean for patients. Be sure to register for the webinar here! Below are some of the top research and advocacy highlights from this year’s conference:

Abstract updates

Before ASCO 18, we covered several abstracts relevant for CRC patients that would be presented at the conference.You can check out our coverage of them here! At the conference, we made sure to stop by poster presentations of the most pertinent studies for CRC patients including those we covered prior. Some of those abstracts include the following:

1) Abstract 6566: Addressing Financial Concerns of Cancer Clinical Trial Participants: Longitudinal outcomes of an equity intervention

Findings from this study found that cancer patients have substantial financial concerns. At baseline pre-intervention, nearly 84% of patients reported having to take money out of savings and an additional 46% reported going into credit card debt due to their cancer diagnosis.

2) Abstract 3011: Association of gut microbiome with immune status and clinical response in solid tumor patients who received on anti-PD-1 therapies.

This study analyzed the gut microbiome of patients who had previously received anti PD-1 therapy and compared patients who responded to therapy (complete or partial response, or stable disease > 6 mos.) to patients who didn’t respond to therapy (disease progression or stable disease lasting less than 6 mos.) Those who responded to therapy had greater diversity and composition in their gut microbiome than those that didn’t respond, suggesting that the gut microbiome may play a role in treatment outcomes.

3) Abstract 6561 : Increasing access to NGS tests for women and racial minorities may lift barriers to molecular-driven clinical trial enrollment.

Researchers found that providing access to NGS testing may improve the enrollment of women and racial minorities to oncology clinical trials.

Research advocates interviewed top oncologists

Fight CRC research advocate, Karen Wehling, interviewed Dr. Chris Lieu from the University of Colorado Cancer Center. According to Dr. Lieu, one of the most relevant trials for CRC patients to follow at ASCO is PRODIGE 7, a phase III trial of hyperthermic intra-peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) for colorectal peritoneal carcinomatosis. HIPEC is a high dose of chemotherapy treatment that delivers concentrated heat into the abdomen during surgery.

Results presented at the oral abstract session noted there was no overall survival benefit for patients randomized to receive HIPEC with oxaliplatin after cytoreductive surgery versus those that only received cytoreductive surgery. It’s still too early to understand if these results will change treatment practice.

Clinicians discussed their research with advocates

Dr. Kanwal Raghav from MD Anderson presented his research to Fight CRC research advocates during the Gastrointestinal (GI) CRC poster session. According to Dr. Raghav, about 8% of CRC patients have HER2 amplified genes. Typically this amplification is seen in patients that are RAS or BRAF wildtype. Because patients with these mutations have poor response to standard of care chemotherapy, his research goal is to increase knowledge base to help get agents approved for HER2 targeted therapies as standard of care.

Not only could Dr. Raghav’s research help provide treatment for patients that don’t currently exist, but it could also help take away toxic chemotherapy side effects for patients that wouldn’t benefit from standard of care chemo.

Global leaders came together for the Fight CRC Immunotherapy Workgroup meeting

Fight CRC brought together experts and advocates in CRC research at this year’s IO Workgroup meeting. Fight CRC and Flatiron presented updates and future improvements to the Late Stage MSS CRC clinical trial finder tool, one of the only tools powered by patients for patients.

Dr. Franck Housseau gave an update on his and Dr. Cindy Sears’ gut microbiome work funded by Fight CRC and the Cancer Research Institute in 2017. Based on preliminary findings, bacteria in human biofilms could induce colon tumors. This data was presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference the same week as ASCO.

The meeting concluded with Dr. Jerome Galon of HalioDx, inventors of the diagnostic assay Immunoscore, presenting about Immunoscore and discussion centered around incorporating essays such as these into clinical trials.

Hear about ASCO from the advocacy perspective

Be sure to look out for our patient advocate blogs covering ASCO! Fight CRC advocates from the Research Advocacy Training and Support Program will discuss their experience attending conferences like ASCO and what the research means for the CRC community.

Fight CRC will continue to attend relevant cancer conferences and communicate the latest findings out to the CRC community. Be sure to join us as Dr. Goldberg discusses updates in research next week!

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