ASCO: Meeting Highlights 49 Years of Progress

Posted by Samantha Powell on May 30th, 2013 |

By Michael Smith / May 30, 2013

CHICAGO — Attitudes toward lung cancer are markedly more negative than those toward breast cancer, researchers will report at the annual meeting here of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

That’s true regardless of whether the attitudes are explicitly expressed or unconscious, according to Joan Schiller, MD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues.

In a study of nearly 2,000 people, the trends were consistent across people with cancer, health care providers, caregivers, and the general public, Schiller and colleagues are to report June 2.

The study is just one of more than 4,500 scheduled for presentation at the meeting, which society president Sandra Swain, MD, of Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia, called the “foremost international scientific meeting on clinical oncology.”

The society expects more than 30,000 participants to throng the halls of the sprawling McCormick Place convention center here, Swain told reporters, to learn about “some of the most leading-edge and practice-changing science.”

She said research presented in the 48 previous meetings has led to improvement in survival of cancer patients as well as their quality of life. The 49th meeting, she said, will witness more progress, including a “new area of precision medicine” in which treatment won’t be defined by cancer site, but by the genetics of both the tumor and the patient.

The abstracts include more than 1,300 focusing in whole or in part on lung cancer. Among the lung cancer studies:

Early results from the GALAXY-2 trial, a randomized phase III study examining the heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitor ganetespib in combination with docetaxel (Taxotere) versus docetaxel alone in patients with advanced non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma. The protein helps cancer cells survive; inhibiting it is hoped to prolong survival.

A report on the role of fitness in lung cancer, as well as colorectal and prostate disease. Researchers found that better fitness had beneficial effects on the incidence of lung and colorectal cancer and reduced mortality in those who actually got the diseases, as well as in prostate cancer.

A final report on a randomized trial that showed that increasing the dose of radiation therapy in stage III non-small cell lung cancer compromises outcomes and cuts survival.

And positive results from early research in a range of solid tumors (including those in the lung) on molecules that prevent cancer cells from hiding from the immune system.

In the study on attitudes, Schiller and colleagues found that participants in the study had explicit, conscious opinions about lung cancer that were more negative than those they held about breast cancer.

They were asked to rate their agreement with statements about how people “do feel” or “ought to feel” about their disease — descriptive and normative attitudes, respectively.

Most participants gave more negative ratings for lung cancer (70%) than for breast cancer (8%) on the descriptive and on the normative statements (56% versus 3%), the researchers are to report.

The pattern was similar for implicit, unconscious attitudes, measured using the Implicit Association Test, Schiller and colleagues found.

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