Fred Hutch scientists to discuss new treatments, public health findings and more at ASCO meeting

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Fred Hutch scientists to discuss new treatments, public health findings and more at ASCO meeting

SEATTLE — June 1, 2017 — Scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will present new findings at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, to be held June 2­–6 in in Chicago. Highlights of the presentations, including results of clinical trials and recommendations arising from outcomes research, are as follows, with links to abstracts and news releases (as available).

Experimental drug knocks down pancreatic cancer’s defense

By adding an experimental drug to a standard chemotherapy regimen, a subset of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer had a significantly longer period before the cancer progressed compared with those who received only the standard treatment. Treatment with the drug PEGPH20 gave participants four months more of progression-free survival, a notable boost for the fast-moving and deadly cancer. Results of the randomized, controlled Phase 2 clinical trial will be presented by Dr. Sunil Hingorani, the Fred Hutch researcher who led the trial, will present results of the randomized, controlled Phase 2 clinical trial at 10:24 a.m. CT Sunday, June 4. (ASCO abstract 4008, Fred Hutch news release)

Triple immunotherapy for rare skin cancer shows promise

A combination of T-cell therapy, the newly Food and Drug Administration-approved immunotherapy drug known as avelumab, and either radiation or interferon (an immune system booster that renders tumors more visible to the immune system) kept cancer at bay for three out of four patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin cancer. The addition of avelumab — a checkpoint inhibitor that helps the immune system fight cancer cells — seems to have kicked the T cells into high gear, and the researchers hope the combo treatment could be adapted for other cancers. Dr. Kelly Paulson, an immunotherapy researcher at Fred Hutch, will present a poster with the findings from the small, ongoing trial the morning of Monday, June 5. (ASCO abstract 3044, Fred Hutch news release)

Many cancer patients’ Emergency Department visits appear preventable

Surveying thousands of cancer patients, the first systemic analysis of preventable emergency-department visits has revealed that 53 percent of visits that did not result in admission could have been avoided with better management of symptoms and greater availability of outpatient care tailored to meet the patients’ needs. The most common reasons for going to the ED were due to pain, accounting for 27 percent of overall visits with a median cost of $1,127 per visit. Dr. Laura Panattoni a staff scientist at the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research at Fred Hutch, will discuss these and other study results at 9:24 a.m. CT Monday, June 5. (ASCO abstract 6505, Fred Hutch news release)

Immune responses from early study of novel sarcoma vaccine

The critical component of an experimental vaccine led to an escalating immune response in patients with sarcoma, an indicator of its anti-cancer effects, according to a study led by Fred Hutch physician-scientist Dr. Seth Pollack. Pollack will present a poster detailing the research the morning of Monday, June 5. (ASCO abstract 3090, Fred Hutch news release). Pollack’s findings reinforce promising results of an early-stage clinical trial of the vaccine, which are being presented at ASCO by Dr. Neeta Somaiah of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Many patients with early-stage breast cancer receive costly, inappropriate testing

Asymptomatic women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer often undergo advanced imaging and other tests that provide little if any medical benefit, could have harmful effects and may increase their financial burden, according to a study led by Fred Hutch researcher Dr. Gary Lyman, a breast cancer oncologist and health economist who also serves as co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research. Lyman will present a poster with the findings the afternoon of Monday, June 5. (ASCO abstract 6582, Fred Hutch news release)

SWOG clinical trials added more than 3M years of life for cancer patients

Fred Hutch biostatistician Dr. Joseph Unger and colleagues examined outcomes data from 23 randomized, Phase 3 clinical trials that established new standards of care for different cancers.  As a result of these new treatments, the researchers estimate that 3.34 million years of life were gained over a 60-year period. SWOG, formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group, is a National Cancer Institute-sponsored network cooperative research group that conducted the trials. Fred Hutch houses the SWOG Statistical Center. Unger will present a poster with the SWOG findings on the afternoon of Monday, June 5, and he will participate in a discussion of this and other posters later that day at 4:45 p.m. CT. (ASCO abstract 6513)

Other Fred Hutch faculty to speak at ASCO

Other Fred Hutch posters to be presented at ASCO

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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.