NEWS | June 6, 2017

Cancer Center researchers present at international ASCO meeting

Lung, kidney, young adult cancers topics of presentations


Several members of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center presented  research at the 2017 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists June 1-6 in Chicago. ASCO is the largest annual clinical oncology meeting, bringing together some 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world.

David Gandara David Gandara

Among the presenters from UC Davis was David Gandara, director of thoracic oncology at the cancer center. Gandara presented results of a large, Phase III immunotherapy trial which found that continued administration of atezolizumab, a monoclonal antibody against PD-L1, after initial progressive disease was safe and effective in further decreasing tumor growth and resulted in long survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. In this first report of its kind, the results suggest that immunotherapy is capable of altering tumor biology and that the approach can favorably influence survival.

The findings come on the heels of a study published in the journal The Lancet in January, in which Gandara reported that patients who were given atezolizumab had significantly longer survival than those treated with the chemotherapeutic agent docetaxel, the standard treatment.

Theresa Keegan, an epidemiologist in the Department of Internal Medicine, presented four abstracts. The first, a study she co-authored on mortality in young adults with Ewing sarcoma, found that treatment at a specialized cancer center significantly improves survival, possibly because of increased access to clinical trials and other specialized services. Another paper found an increase in clinical trial participation among young adults and adolescents.

Keegan also presented research she co-authored with Stanford University colleagues which found that the Affordable Care Act was an important first step in increasing coverage for young adult and adolescent cancer patients, but that private insurance did not increase among all patients. She also presented on the role of insurance and ethnicity on the impact of cardiovascular disease in young adults and adolescents that can result as a long-term effect of cancer treatment.

Primo Lara, acting cancer center director and an oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers, presented the results of a Phase I-II study of two agents that can activate an immune response – epacadostat and pembrolizumab, in patients with advanced renal cell cancer. Lara found that the combination therapy was effective and tolerable and that Phase III clinical studies are warranted.

Finally, Jeffrey Hoch, of the Department of Public Health Sciences, took part in a seminar on the economics of cancer care, which addressed issues including landscape, treatment costs, reimbursement for care and support of innovative technologies while managing costs to develop them. Hoch took part in a session entitled “What can we learn from the international experience?”