Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, MD, FACP, shares key topics covered in the 17th Annual ISGIO meeting and its significance in the ever-evolving GI cancer space.
Despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the oncology field continues to successfully implement educational and interactive virtual conferences, according to Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, MD, FACP, who added that the 17th Annual International Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology (ISGIO) meeting will seek to simplify the complexities of the gastrointestinal (GI) cancer space as it continues to evolve.
“We learned that virtual meetings are not only possible, but they can be successfully implemented and conducted. Many of us still prefer the live, in-person meetings. However, I foresee the future consisting of hybrid meetings,” said Bekaii-Saab. “During the ISGIO meeting, we want to take all of this complex data and compile it in a way that summarizes what we have learned so that it can be applied to everyday practice. This is especially important as we continue to move forward.”
In an interview with OncLive, Bekaii-Saab, who is also medical director of the Cancer Clinical Research Office, the vice chair, and section chief for Medical Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, shared key topics covered in the 17th Annual ISGIO meeting and its significance in the ever-evolving GI cancer space.
OncLive: How does this year’s ISGIO meeting compare with past meetings?
Bekaii-Saab: This meeting is quite enriched with a diverse faculty. We have many A+ speakers from across the country, all who are experts in their fields. The format is very interactive and educational. We have certainly tried to revamp the spirit and the energy around the [meeting] in a way that allows for a much more comprehensive summary of the year.
We also continue to include the younger faculty and fellows. We see the younger faculty and fellows as the future of GI oncology, thus, involving them early on in many aspects of the meeting will enhance their ability to grow in the field and interact with more of the senior folks.
Overall, they kept some formats consistent with past ISGIO meetings that were deemed successful and improved upon many of the aspects that needed improvement. You will also see the energy around the chairs and the moderators. I believe this meeting is going to be very lively and entertaining, in an educational way.
Could you highlight some of the therapeutic themes in GI cancer that are going to be discussed during the meeting?
We're really going to cover all the diseases that we care for in practice, everything from colon cancer to gastric cancer. Notably, in gastric and gastroesophageal cancers, we've seen significant data in the immuno-oncology (IO) world, which has to do with moving immunotherapy into the first-line setting and perhaps even the adjuvant setting. We're going to make sense of these data, which will be especially helpful now that we are coming out of ESMO.
The speakers and debates in the gastric segment are going to focus on how to optimize and integrate the role of these emerging entities into gastric cancer care. For example, some of the Advances in Science sessions with a focus on circulating free DNAand its role in depicting targets, along with its role in detecting targets and understanding whether it has value in minimal residual disease. We want to see whether we can translate that into clinical practice.
With hepatocellular carcinoma, we will be covering the whole gamut, from systemic treatment to earlier treatments. As such, we're really going to cover a whole breadth of information spanning all stages of the cancer.
This is a very rich program that will be delivered in a way that simplifies the complexities in the field as we continue to move forward.
Are any data from the 2020 ESMO Virtual Congress being presented at this meeting?
The most interesting data that came out of ESMO is the immunotherapy story for GI and gastroesophageal cancer, and that will be integrated into a segment. The rest of the data from ESMO were not as exciting.
From ASCO, for example, we have KEYNOTE-177, which transformed the field in terms of how we treat patients with colorectal cancer who are microsatellite instability–high, in the first-line setting. At ESMO GI, we saw data on the role of BRAF mutations and specifically targeting them in the first-line setting. The ANCHOR-CRC study is suggesting that there may be even further improvement as we move up the line. A lot has happened during the year, not just from ESMO but also from ASCO, which will be the focus of the meeting.
In addition to that, there are a lot of particularities to the meeting itself. We're bringing in the folks who are essentially moving the field and we are having them participate in crossfire-type debates about data that we have today and also the data we have had for the past 20 years and how it is being integrated into practice, in terms of neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy, as well as in other settings.
Along with presenting the latest and greatest, we also want to ensure that there are clinically applicable discussions that pertain to day-to-day practice. Of course, we want to integrate some of the new findings, but we also want to summarize some of the past knowledge.
What implications will this meeting have on your own practice?
I must say, I'm excited. Every time I look at the agendas, I get more even more excited because, as much as I attend all of these meetings and have the opportunity to discuss many aspects of these meetings in various settings, I like the way this specific meeting is set up. I foresee an enhancement in my knowledge across many settings.
It's great to hear from other colleagues, in terms of how they think, solve, and debate problems. We all have our biases, but I believe it’s incredibly educational to hear other experts speak, regardless of how senior in the field you are.
I’m very excited about the meeting and the format; I’m not going to skip 1 minute. In many ways, a lot of what is going to be said is going to help me continue to shape up my own practice.