ASCO cancer research key highlights summary

Breaking Ground: Unveiling the Standout Discoveries from the 2023 ASCO Annual Meetings"

We've summarized a few highlights from the over 2,000 poster and poster discussion abstracts. If you want to search the entire list of abstracts, you can visit ASCO here.

Insights for Breast Cancer:

There are 2 new CDK4/6 inhibitors for hormone-receptor-positive, early-stage breast cancer offer benefits after surgery. 

  • Results from the NATALEE trial found that treating early-stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer with Kisqali plus an aromatase inhibitor after surgery reduced the risk of recurrence by about 25% more than treating it with an aromatase inhibitor alone.
  • Kisqali is not yet approved to treat early-stage disease, but Verzenio is.
  • The results suggest that you and your doctors may soon have a choice of CDK4/6 inhibitors for early-stage disease so that you can make treatment decisions based on the side effects of the two medicines.

Verzenio benefits people diagnosed with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, regardless of age. 

  • The latest results from the monarchE trial showed that Verzenio plus hormonal therapy after surgery for early-stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer reduced the risk of recurrence more than hormonal therapy alone, no matter how old a person was. 
  • Many past studies didn’t include older people because some women 65 and older didn’t want breast cancer treatment. Now, people are living longer, so it’s important to know that medicines work well in adults of all ages.
  • Importantly, the results also showed that when people had to lower the dose of Verzenio because of side effects, the benefit was the same. In other words, a lower dose of Verzenio offered the same reduction in recurrence risk.

A meta-analysis showed that ovarian suppression for pre-menopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer leads to better outcomes. 

  • A meta-analysis is a study that combines and analyzes the results of several earlier studies.
  • In this case, the results from 25 studies involving 14,999 women published between 1948 and today were analyzed. The results showed that ovarian function suppression reduces the risk of recurrence and death by about 18%.

Taking tamoxifen at night offers more benefits. 

  • A study found that taking tamoxifen at night, rather than in the morning, offered better outcomes. The study also found that the time a person takes an aromatase inhibitor doesn’t change outcomes. So if you have the option, why not take tamoxifen at night?

Patritumab deruxtecan (HER3-DXd) offered benefits for people diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. 

  • About 60% to 70% of breast cancers express the HER3 protein. Study results showed that HER3-DXd offered benefits — including shrinking the cancer — for a variety of metastatic breast cancers that had grown while being treated with other medicines.
  • Cancer types included hormone receptor-positive, triple-negative, and HER2-low.
  • The most common side effects were nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most of the side effects were grade 1 or grade 2, which means they were less severe.
  • HER3-DXd isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yet, but the company that makes it is expected to apply for approval.

Telephone-based coaching leads to weight loss in breast cancer survivors

  • Overall, the study shows that a telephone-based weight-loss intervention shows promise in helping some breast cancer survivors lose weight.  

Insights for Cervical Cancer

Adding pembrolizumab to chemotherapy helps people with advanced cervical cancer live longer 

Adding pembrolizumab to chemotherapy, with or without bevacizumab, for the initial treatment of people with advanced cervical cancer may help them live longer and delay cancer growth, regardless of whether the tumors express PD-L1.  

Insights for Ovarian Cancer

One study found an antibody-drug conjugate prolonged survival in advanced ovarian cancer by three months, or 33%. Participants in this study all had tumors with resistance to an initial course of chemotherapy.

Another trial, involving early-stage low-risk cervical cancer patients, found that simple hysterectomy was a better option for patients than radical hysterectomy, marking a new standard of care.

Insights for Pancreatic Cancer

Minimally invasive surgery is a safe and effective treatment option for early-stage pancreatic cancer

For patients with pancreatic cancer that can be treated with a distal pancreatectomy, the minimally invasive option is just as safe and effective as open surgery. This can lead to improved quality of life after surgery, such as less infection risk, quicker recovery, and less pain.   

Insights for Lung Cancer

And in what some attendees hailed as an “extraordinary” finding, new clinical trial data indicate that a pill to treat non-small cell lung cancer reduced the risk of death by 51% for patients with tumors removed.

Insights for Racial disparities

Medicaid expansion linked to lower death rates and less racial disparities for people with gastrointestinal cancers

States that expanded Medicaid coverage had a reduction in the rate of cancer death and closed the gap in health disparities between White people and Black people with GI cancers. 

Sources of information:;; PhRMA

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