Howard McClurd is a kidney cancer patient and advocate. Here are his thoughts from the 2020 ASCO GU Symposium.
The first impression I had upon arrival is — this is overwhelming! 4,000 oncology specialists gathered to share updated clinical findings across a broad variety of topics in the Genitourinary Cancer space.
Some of the topics may surprise or impress you as they did me, including:
- The introduction of AI: Artificial Intelligence has made its way into cancer research, bringing new learning applications and innovative strategies for patient care.
- Biomarkers and the influence of germline testing for the future of precision oncology. This use must be considered in parallel with somatic next-generation sequencing to guide targeted therapies for patients.
- Combination therapies show promising benefits for second-line treatments (and possibly first line in the future). Doctors shared successes with combining radiation and drug treatments, along with hypofractionation and SABR radiotherapy. They discussed the benefits of more pinpointed radiation treatment to reduce and possibly eliminate damage to tissue outside the affected areas of the cancer tumors.
- Immunotherapy has truly shifted into the forefront! More research is needed, and many spoke of the need to release this potential treatment. Doctors are having great success already, but we have only scratched the surface of this technology.
- Therapeutic trials are growing, and we need more participation. This topic came up quite a bit during presentations and discussions. As a patient advocate, my primary goal is to help find a cure, and to make this happen, we must emphasize the significance of these trials. Drop the stigma associated with “trials,” and let’s inform patients how they can find trials, qualify for them, and participate.
I am looking forward to learning more in this world of oncology. I hope to share successes with the kidney cancer community and bring hope for future cancer survivors like me.
– Howard McClurd