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2019 ASCO Annual Meeting Reveals Top Trends in Cancer Care

June 14, 2019

Dr. Debra Patt, executive vice president of special projects at Texas Oncology and medical oncologist, Texas Oncology–Austin Central.

Every year, leading experts, innovators, and voices in oncology gather at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting to share breakthrough research and trends in cancer care. Dr. Debra Patt, executive vice president of special projects at Texas Oncology and medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Austin Central, currently serves as editor-in-chief of ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology-Clinical Cancer Informatics and resides on the ASCO Board nominating committee. At this year’s Annual Meeting, she also was honored as a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) – a distinction that recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to the organization.

Dr. Patt also presented at the annual event, highlighting the impact of big data and predictive analytics in data-rich fields like oncology, and discussing healthcare innovation and policy in a pre-meeting seminar on barriers and opportunities in paying for innovative care. Following are Dr. Patt’s observations on highlights from the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Treating Cancer as a Chronic Disease

Advancements in cancer care are leading to the treatment of advanced cancers as a chronic disease. Patients with advanced breast cancer can often live many years with early addition of targeted therapies and substantially delay or alleviate the need for chemotherapy. At this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, the MONALEESA 7 trial showed that patients who undergo this treatment strategy with advanced estrogen positive breast cancer live longer due to chronic treatment with these targeted medications.

Healthy Habits Improve Survival Rates

Healthy choices like diet and exercise can dramatically improve survival rates among cancer patients. Research presented at ASCO 2019 shows a survival advantage for women with healthy diets in comparison to those with regular diets among breast cancer survivors.

Texas Oncology is growing its survivorship program to focus more on wellness, which includes eating a healthy diet and participating in regular vigorous exercise,” said Dr. Patt. “As cancer care providers, we need to continue to encourage our patients to make healthy choices to improve their quality of life and overall survival.”

A Spotlight on Personalized Treatment

Targeted therapies continue to escalate in importance and offer unique treatment opportunities to patients with cancers that harbor mutations. Data was presented on targeted therapies that showed efficacy in pediatric patients, too. This requires molecular testing for therapeutic interventions, which enables personalized treatments that stop the drivers of growth in advanced cancers.

Texas Oncology’s precision medicine initiative realizes the potential of understanding the drivers of advanced cancer and matching therapies and clinical trials to driver mutations that we identify as potentially helpful,” said Dr. Patt. “Texas Oncology is working to grow this strategy and our patients will see the benefit.”

Investing in Research to Advance Cancer Care Innovations

Texas Oncology’s robust clinical research program aims to improve patient access to new and innovative treatment options, in addition to researching imaging informatics, decision support, predictive analytics, and care delivery.

As oncologists, investing in research is paramount. It allows us to bring better therapies to patients, but also helps us provide high value care to support their quality of life.”

“We are fortunate to have close relationships with US Oncology to help us provide patients access to novel therapeutic trials. We are also growing patient access to early phase clinical trials and continuing research on how we can improve the care of patients with clinical decision support systems that support care delivery,” Dr. Patt adds.

Cancer care is changing rapidly. In the last 15 years, there has been an explosion of therapeutic opportunity. “We need to continue to learn new ways to fight cancer,” said Dr. Patt. “Attending the ASCO Annual Meeting is an important opportunity to share the latest treatment and research breakthroughs that will help us better serve our patients.”

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