Keeping a finger on the pulse at ESMO 2019

Monday 30th September 2019

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Fast-pace developments and changes in standard of care in oncology

Checkpoint inhibitors remained a hot topic for 2019 at this year’s ESMO congress in Barcelona. The latest data from the Phase III CheckMate 067 trial were presented, investigating nivolumab and ipilumumab either alone or in combination in patients with metastic melanoma. Advanced stage malignant melanoma has been historically challenging to treat and clincians previously considered these patients to be untreatable. However, this trial has been able to demonstrate significant and durable survival outcomes in this difficult to treat patient population. At 5 years, a clear benefit has been demonstrated for the combination regimen (nivolumab plus ipilumumab) versus ipilumumab alone. The study was not designed to compare the combination regimen with nivolumab monotherapy. These results reflect earlier findings from this trial. From a patient persective, this means 52% can expect to be alive after 5 years with nivolumab-ipilumumab combination treatment. This is a far cry from the historical 5 year year survival rates of less than 10%.

Outcomes from three major Phase III trials investigating PARP inhibitors have also demonstrated that these drugs are changing the treatment landscape in ovarian cancer. At this year’s ESMO, it was concluded that this latest data is likely to lead to a change in the standard of care, where PARP inhibitors could now be considered for patients with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer beyond BRCA mutations.

The FLAURA trial has also been big news for patients with EGFR-mutated advanced NSCLC. The final data from this trial confirmed that osimertinib should be considered as a first-line treatment option, with overall survival outcomes confirming earlier progression-free survival data.

These are just some of the cutting edge data presented at ESMO 2019. Our understanding and ability to treat a wide range of cancers continues to grow rapidly, and is reflected in the constantly evolving standards of care in these fast-paced and exciting fields.