ASCO 2012, Melanoma|June 1, 2012 8:07 pm

ASCO 2012 preview

This year’s ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) meeting will once again be held in Chicago IL at the mammoth McCormick Place Convention Center.

The overall theme for this year’s meeting is, “Collaborating to Conquer Cancer.” This is an interesting turn of phrase from the perspective of the melanoma world, as much of the emphasis of this year’s work is on building on the recent success of such new drugs as ipilimumab (Yervoy) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf) through new combination therapies of drugs targeting complementary strategies and/or enzymatic pathways. In a sense, these efforts seek collaboration between different ways of killing cancer (or sometimes different drug development sources or companies).

ASCO is, as always, The Place where almost all relevant advances in cancer care are announced, considered and discussed. Even if the results are previously announced as “positive” the data itself is often not publicly available until ASCO. The biggest announcements are carefully orchestrated  by the sponsoring companies and organizations, to maximize the news impact of the story (CNBC and the other networks set up shop outside the Convention Center, and there are many many analysts and journalists in attendance). A few years ago a friend was the presenter on a practice-changin article, and he was basically babysat by the sponsoring company through the entire meeting right up until his presentation.

To me the most important discussions about melanoma care this year will revolve around the best sequence of newly approved therapies, the further understanding of BRAF inhibitor activity and resistance, both singly and in combination with MEK inhibitors, and searching for early information on the NEXT big breakthrough. I don’t think this next breakthrough is quite there yet, and I doubt there will be presentations of new melanoma results with anywhere near the impact of the last two years. However, there will be important early results presented on drug combinations and also a first look at hoped-for NRAS inhibitors, which may be the next important mutation affecting melanoma care.

Look for more detailed previews, on-site summaries and of course pithy tweets over the course of the next three days.

ASCO 2012 attendees mill about at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

Eric Whitman, MD

Senior Editor

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