Participating in the panel discussion are, from left, Thomas J. Lynch Jr, MD, Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD, Balazs Halmos, MD, and Sarah B. Goldberg, MD, MPH
Leading experts in the rapidly evolving field of lung cancer treatment assembled for the 1st Annual Miami Lung Cancer Conference™ in Miami Beach, Florida, on March 8, to offer their perspectives on the latest research and provide clinical insights for practitioners dealing with challenging cases. Physicians’ Education Resource, LLC (PER®) hosted the one-day conference.
The conference, chaired by Thomas J. Lynch Jr, MD, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physicianin- chief at the Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, consisted of three panel discussions with a “medical crossfire” format: (1) the role of antibodies and maintenance therapy for patients with advanced disease; (2) the role of EGFR- and ALK-targeted therapies in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); and (3) the implications of ongoing clinical trials investigating the role of immune-based therapies in lung cancer.
Lynch is among the inaugural class of oncology specialists honored as one of the “Giants of Cancer Care,” a new awards program that the Intellsphere Oncology Specialty Group launched last year. He has conducted dozens of studies focused on personalized cancer therapies, including codirecting one of the research teams that delineated the role of EGFR mutations in treatment response to the targeted therapy gefitinib among patients with NSCLC (N Engl J Med
“A fundamental shift in the treatment of lung cancer has occurred in the past five to 10 years, from a one-size-fits-all approach to the emergence of therapy that is personalized based on the histologic and molecular characteristics of the tumor,” said Lynch, setting the stage for the program’s panel discussion focused on treatment of patients with NSCLC whose tumors harbor EGFR
mutations or ALK
“While the advances in new targeted therapies offer the possibility of improved outcomes to patients, they complicate the decision-making process that community oncologists face each time they consider treatment options for their patients,” said Lynch. These decisions involve such questions as which patients should be tested, when they should be tested, which test to order, the costs of these tests, and how to handle a patient with more than one mutation.
EGFR—10 Years Later
The panel discussion that focused on personalized therapy, noted faculty member Balazs Halmos, MD, proved “especially momentous,” occurring about the time of the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the EGFR
mutation’s impact on treatment outcomes for patients with that aberration.
As part of his presentation, Halmos, section chief of Thoracic Oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, described studies demonstrating the benefits of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib, erlotinib, and afatinib in the frontline setting for patients with EGFR
-mutated NSCLC, as powerful examples of how molecular profiling has transformed treatment options in lung cancer.
One of the big questions physicians face when presented with a patient who is newly diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, said Halmos, is whether to wait to get the results of molecular testing. Ideally, the turnaround time for such testing should be two weeks or less, he continued, but this must be balanced against the need to treat highly symptomatic patients. He noted that practitioners may be reassured by research findings showing that patients initially treated with chemotherapy can successfully be transferred to TKI therapy should testing results warrant.