Dr Sandra Swain ESMO 2014 Cleopatra PresentationMadrid – it’s Day 3 of ESMO 2014 (#ESMO14), the annual Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology, and the last day when we will be publishing a live blog from the meeting.

As predicted in our plenary preview, the highlight of the Congress is the overall survival data for the CLEOPATRA trial in HER2+ metastatic breast cancer where the addition of pertuzumab (Perjeta) to trastuzumab (Herceptin) and docetaxel chemotherapy resulted in an additional survival benefit of almost 16 months.

As Dr Sandra Swain noted in her presentation of the data in yesterday’s Presidential Symposium: “the 56.5 month median OS is unprecedented in this indication.”

Note that says MONTHS (almost 5 years) not weeks – it represents the new standard of care that all women with metastatic HER2+ breast cancer should now receive.

The prolonged applause at yesterday’s packed plenary session at ESMO 2014 summed up the feelings felt at hearing this practice changing data; the audience of medical oncologists live for moments like this! It’s truly the sort of stuff that makes you smile and go “Wow.”  We will be writing more about the commercial implications of the CLEOPATRA results and the breast cancer treatment landscape in our post-meeting coverage.

One thing that did capture my attention in the poster area at this year’s ESMO meeting was the bank of digital screens (the size of flat screen TVs) on which attendees could view digital copies of posters. What was even more bizarre was to see people taking pictures of an e-poster.

It will be interesting to see whether paper posters survive, or if they are now one of the last vestiges of the pre-digital era, destined to be phased out like paper cheques. I could see them becoming obsolete at scientific meetings in the not too distant future.

Instead we could have posters published online, with investigators interacting via chat or social media to answer questions from around the world during a dedicated interactive “poster viewing session.” I’ll let the social media gurus ponder that thought, but paperless and digital is the inexorable direction we appear to be going in.

My fervent wish is for conference organizers to ditch Flash-based apps that run on a USB key – these are pretty useless with a tablet – why not have a website with simple digital downloads for the PDFs?  Thankfully, quite a few of the posters achieved this via QR codes on their posters, making them more accessible and easier to read on the go while sparing trees.

ESMO 2014 E Posters

So what’s happening today at ESMO 2014?  Subscribers can login to read which sessions we’ll be at and, wifi permitting, read our thoughts as to what catches our attention during the day. Do follow @MaverickNY on Twitter if you don’t already.