Vienna, Austria: Yesterday at the European Cancer Congress we heard the latest data on checkpoint inhibitors. If there was any doubt as to the paradigm shift that immunotherapy is causing in cancer care, one only had to look at the full meeting rooms, and throngs of people trying to get into the IO sessions.
They were frequently standing room only with many people frustrated at being locked out or having to resort to the tiny overflow room. Traditionally breast cancer has always been allocated the largest room for oral sessions, but with Immuno-Oncology increasingly drawing the largest and most enthusiastic crowds, this situation may well have to change in future years. It will soon be time for a specialist track on this topic in the biggest hall, making it easier for people to learn more about new developments across tumour types, rather than scatter them all over the program by organ.
The melanoma session yesterday, for example, was full to overflowing with every single seat snatched up. Given the noise and crowds outside, the session start was delayed slightly as Prof Eggermont warmly and graciously invited people in to stand along the aisles and “engage in the debate from the sides.” In a small packed room (why so small?!) this certainly added to the buzz and atmosphere.
One session Chair joked you only had to put “immunotherapy” in the title to ensure a great turn out. There were even people there until 7pm to hear the immunotherapy proffered papers yesterday, for example.
If I have one plea to cancer conference organisers it is to be more aware of the changing trends and enthusiasm – immunotherapy is the hottest topic right now and people want to hear about these agents irrespective of tumour type. Why not have a two hour session on IO trials in the largest hall, almost like a special session so everyone interested can attend? It makes a lot more sense than scattering the presentations all over the place and forcing people to run about the centre like rabid rabbits on too much caffeine! It’s easy to cover 15K steps and over 6 miles trying to catch these studies in various sessions.
As you can see from the photo to the right, this is the growing crowd outside the bladder cancer session yesterday (I was one of them). People rushed from the atezo data in the lung cancer session to the bladder session down the other end of the corridor and were locked out due to a packed hall. They were frantically taking photos of Dr Rosenberg’s slides from the tv screens on the wall.
We have added some commentary and thought leader perspectives on the atezo data in the Day 2 highlights, for those interested.
It’s a particularly poignant scene for those of us who attended bladder cancer sessions only a few years ago where there were literally 12 men and a dog present in the hall. How things have changed – IO fever has caught on even in this distant universe!
Meanwhile, the Day 1 Highlights and Day 2 Highlights posts have looked at the atezolizumab data in bladder and lung, as well as the nivolumab data in renal cell carcinoma and pembrolizumab in several different cancer types. There’s also some topline commentary on where cabozantinib fits in RCC. Today’s highlights will probably be lung cancer focused with the latest nivolumab CheckMate 017 and 057 data being presented this morning.
In addition to the latest clinical data, there has been some scientific symposia at the meetings that have attracted experts well worth listening to. More in future blog posts.
So what’s happening on Day 3 at the European Cancer Congress? This post highlights some of the sessions that may be of interest.