2021 ISGIO Meeting Packed With Multidisciplinary Updates in Gastrointestinal Cancers

Gastrointestinal cancer is increasingly viewed through a multidisciplinary lens, and the 2021 International Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology Annual Meeting produced intriguing developments in the armamentarium.

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is increasingly viewed through a multidisciplinary lens, and the 2021 International Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology (ISGIO) Annual Meeting produced intriguing developments in the armamentarium, according to John H. Strickler, MD.

During the in-person conference, attendees shared updates in cutting-edge research and best practices in GI cancer care, where discussion topics featured novel targets and treatments targeted at overcoming acquired resistance.

“One of the reasons why we love in-person conferences is that it is an opportunity for us to not only see what each other are working on with exciting developments in the field, [but] it's also a chance for us to connect informally and bounce ideas off each other and build on each other's interests and research,” Strickler said. “Hopefully going forward, we'll have more in-person events so that we can have both that formal, but also the informal connections that are so vital to generate the next breakthroughs in our field.”

In an interview with OncLive, Strickler, a medical oncologist at Duke Cancer Center, discussed highlights from the 2021 ISGIO Annual Meeting and ongoing research efforts gaining momentum in GI malignancies.

OncLive: What recent advances in GI cancers are you most excited about?

Strickler: For patients with GI cancers, we are increasingly seeing this not as just 1 disease or a small collection of diseases. Increasingly, we're seeing [GI cancers] as many diseases that we treat with tailored approaches. Generally, those approaches are influenced and guided by the molecular profile of a tumor. For example, with colorectal cancer [CRC], we see the development of many new targeted therapy strategies with improved tolerability and [clinical] activity.

One of the areas that we are excited about is understanding how molecular residual disease could be potentially useful in the future for identifying patients at risk for recurrence after surgery and learning about whether there are ways that we can use that information to potentially change outcomes for patients. That is something that I'm excited about for the future, and is something that is increasingly a topic of discussion at these conferences.

Reflecting on this year’s ISGIO meeting, what presentations did you find particularly beneficial? 

The conference was a wonderful way for us to reconnect after being away from each other for so long. It was exciting to see what colleagues are working on from a research standpoint, what clinical trials are generating new data.

What was interesting to me was to hear [Ryan Corcoran, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital], talk about therapeutic opportunities for patients with BRAF V600E—mutated colon cancer. That is a disease that is known to be aggressive.

We have new treatments that have entered the clinic recently, but many of these patients eventually develop resistance, so it's interesting to hear why these patients are developing resistance and ways that we can potentially target those with novel therapies and new combinations.

What research are you and/or your institution working on currently that you would like to highlight?

Here at Duke Cancer Center, we have been actively involved in the [phase 2/3] MOUNTAINEER-02 trial (NCT04499924), which is an exciting, therapeutic combination of tucatinib (Tukysa) and trastuzumab (Herceptin) for patients with HER2-positive metastatic CRC. We have been part of this trial since its inception and are excited to see those results read out as enrollment has recently completed.

Why are meetings like these important for the oncology community?

These meetings are important because [they] give us a chance to ensure that we're up to date on the latest breakthroughs in our field. It also allows us an opportunity to make connections to each other from both a personal and a research standpoint. To build that research network is so critical in our field. We are highly dependent on collaboration and cooperation between investigators and between [academic] centers, and these types of meetings are ways for us to cement those connections.