This year’s European Cancer Congress (ECC2015) will play host to some of the best research from around the world and will cover all aspects of cancer from basic science to clinical care. The most common tumour types will be represented, as will some of the rarest, ensuring that regardless of speciality there will be something for everyone.
We spoke to experts in two of the most popular areas in terms of abstract submissions, lung and breast cancer, to see what they thought about the upcoming Congress.
“ECC2015 is the most important interdisciplinary congress for oncology in Europe,” said Dr Martin Reck, a specialist in thoracic oncology. “I am excited to see the most recent and most relevant data in all fields of oncology and patient care that have been generated in the recent months and that will impact our clinical decisions at this congress.
“Given my expertise in lung cancer I am really looking forward to the oral abstract presentations, the plenary sessions and the comprehensive educational programme.
“There are really exciting developments like the ground-breaking results in immunotherapy of lung cancer, new opportunities in targeted therapies (in particular management of resistance by novel tyrosine kinase inhibitors), new methods for molecular profiling (liquid biopsies), and with drugs such as nivolumab just approved by European Medicines Agency.”
Professor Christoph Zielinski, whose work focuses on breast and lung cancer research, agrees: “Without doubt there are currently two fields that are drawing the most attention in oncology; one is immunotherapy with all the new compounds that already have proved to be considerably efficacious in some diseases, such as ipilimumab, but particularly the anti PD-1 antibodies nivolumab and pembrolizumab.
“The efficacy of these drugs is currently being tested in a very high number of various malignancies as either monotherapy or in combination (e.g. anti PD-1 plus anti-CTLA-4 antibodies). In addition to these, other antibodies are entering the arena, such as those directed to other targets, which are apt to modify the immune response against tumours, again either alone or in combination with current therapies.
“The other field of high excitement is personalised medicine, which targets a certain relevant molecular pathway either from the outset of a disease or after the development of resistance to conventional treatment. I expect these to be practice-changing.”
Looking specifically at what will be on show at the Congress, Prof Zielinski told us that “a vast number of contributions at ECC 2015 deal with these topics, but also with the development of drug resistance, with clinical trials relevant and necessary for achieving better disease control than currently possible, and the definition of biomarkers for certain therapeutic procedures involving currently-used compounds.
“People should come to see, hear and witness the highly exciting world of drug development for the treatment of malignant diseases, which we would have never imagined to happen.”
Dr Reck also told us about the benefits of attending aside from the presentations of novel and breaking research findings. He said: “Research in oncology has become a global approach. Therefore, international congresses like ECC2015 give us the opportunity for networking with colleagues from all over the world and allow us to interact with real people instead of anonymous e-mails. This is really important to enable a global understanding. Is there any reason not to come?”
Dr Martin Reck is Head of Department of Thoracic Oncology, Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf. He is chair of the metastatic lung cancer track at the Congress.
Professor Christoph Zielinski is Director of the Clinical Division of Oncology, Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chairman of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical University, Vienna. He is chair of the national organising committee for the Congress.
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