Highlights from

World Conference on Lung Cancer

19th annual meeting

Toronto, Canada 23-26 September 2018

Interview with the IASCL President

Interview with IASLC President Giorgio Scagliotti, MD, PhD Conducted on 14 September 2018 by Rita Buckley

1. Of all the breakthroughs covered at the conference, which ones do you see as game-changers in the lung cancer field?

The Toronto meeting will feature a new generation of targeted therapies against old and new lung cancer targets. Researchers from the PACIFIC trial will present overall survival data for the first time. Findings from the NELSON study, which investigated the role of low-dose CT scans in early detection of lung cancer, will also be released. CT-based lung cancer screening can routinely find earlier stage disease, resulting in higher cure rates. Although many nations are implementing annual screening for lung cancer, only a small number of people will be diagnosed.

2. What do you see as the most important developments in thoracic oncology?

Precision medicine advances are important but, at best, targeted therapies will only be an option for some 40% of patients. Alternatives include innovative approaches, such as immunotherapy. However, we need to resolve patient stratification issues to identify the best subgroups of patients. We also need to better understand the role of “omics” in early disease, and its contribution to diagnoses.

An IASLC discussion forum will include various players in the field of thoracic oncology, including the scientific community and regulatory agencies. It will explore every possible way to get the most effective new drugs to all patients with a thoracic malignancy without compromising high standards for statistical and clinical evidence.

We envision a multimodality approach as the preferred strategy for all patients with lung cancer. As we continue to incorporate local therapies into the treatment of advanced disease, our focus is shifting toward early detection of early stage disease. This will maximise the potential for cure with systemic therapies.

3. Has the way that WCLC 2018 is organised changed this year? If so, how?

Due to rapid innovation, the IASLC decided in 2017 to hold the world’s most important meeting for thoracic malignancies annually instead of biannually. Our members have responded enthusiastically.

This year’s meeting will showcase the latest science and offer unique networking opportunities. The exchange of ideas and projects and the sharing of research findings with peers and opinion leaders is vital, especially for younger colleagues and those from less developed countries. The inclusive nature of our association facilitates the integration of newcomers and fosters international collaboration.

4. As president of the IASLC, what are your main goals for the organisation?

As the premier scientific organisation in the field of thoracic malignancies, IASLC has a comprehensive strategic plan to lead us into the future.

We will focus on global and multidisciplinary challenges patients and physicians face in the diagnosis and treatment of thoracic malignancies. We will be a trusted resource for regulatory agencies, an organisation they can work with to guarantee fast access to drugs and long-term affordability. These are key concerns not only for oncology, but for medicine in general. By 2020, oncology will be hit by huge cost increases. I favour getting rid of “me-too agents” and adopting innovations that deliver meaningful increases in survival.

5. What personal impact do you want to make on the IASLC?

As IASLC’s President, I’m committed to the strategic plan the board approved 1 year ago. The use of innovative tools will broaden educational offerings and reach a global audience. A series of initiatives will maximise the value of long-term IASLC membership and enhance recruitment of new physicians and researchers with an interest in thoracic malignancies. IASLC will address major research questions with a global impact on thoracic malignancies. Our modern and efficient organisational and governance structures make it possible to pursue these goals.

6. What future challenges in the treatment and management of lung cancer are most important? Why?

Biomarker-based patient segmentation and treatments have increased complexity. In parallel, innovative clinical-trial designs—such as umbrella and basket studies or master protocols—are now central to drug development. They underscore the need to better appraise tumour biology, drug efficacy, and potential risks and benefits for patients. Emerging drug-development paradigms are driving new ways of working collaboratively to accelerate progress.

Top image: © iStockphoto

Article image: Medicom

The content and interpretation of these conference highlights are the views and comments of the speakers/authors.