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Novel Therapies in GI Oncology at ASCO23 [Video]

Lung Cancer

Novel Therapies in GI Oncology at ASCO23

Drs. Shaalan Beg and Shiraj Sen discuss notable advances in GI cancers featured at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting, including the PROSPECT and PRODIGE-23 trials in rectal adenocarcinoma, the MORPHEUS study in uHCC, and the NORPACT-1 trial in pancreatic head cancer.


Dr. Shaalan Beg: Hello, and welcome to the ASCO Daily News Podcast. I’m Dr. Shaalan Beg, your guest host for the podcast today. I’m the vice president of oncology at Science 37, and I’m an adjunct associate professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center. My guest today is Dr. Shiraj Sen. He is a GI medical oncologist and the director for clinical research at NEXT Oncology in Dallas.  

Today, we’ll be discussing practice-changing studies and other key advances in GI cancers that were featured at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting.  

You’ll find our full disclosures in the transcript of this episode, and disclosures of all guests on the podcast are available on our transcripts at asco.org/DNpod (https://dailynews.ascopubs.org/podcasts) .  

Shiraj, it’s great to have you on the podcast today. 

Dr. Shiraj Sen: Thanks so much for having me today, Shaalan. 

Dr. Shaalan Beg: We saw exciting new data and great progress in GI oncology at the ASCO Annual Meeting. I was hoping we could talk about LBA2 (https://meetings.asco.org/abstracts-presentations/219804) . This was the PROSPECT (https://meetings.asco.org/abstracts-presentations/219804) study that was presented during the Plenary Session. It’s a randomized, phase 3 trial of neoadjuvant chemoradiation versus neoadjuvant FOLFOX chemo, followed by the selective use of chemoradiation, followed by TME or total mesorectal excision for the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer. This is the Alliance N1048 (https://meetings.asco.org/abstracts-presentations/219804) trial. What are your thoughts on this study? 

Dr. Shiraj Sen: Thanks, Shaalan. It was great to see another GI study presented in a Plenary Session, and I thought this was a great trial that really took us back to thinking about why we do chemoradiation as well as chemotherapy perioperatively in locally advanced rectal cancer. And asking the important question of is there a select patient set or subset where we might be able to safely omit the chemoradiation piece. 

To me, the impressive part was this study enrolled from 2012 to 2018. In 2012, when this treatment really started enrolling, the standard of care was long-course chemoradiation for five and a half weeks, followed by surgery, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy with FOLFOX or CAPOX. During this time, a lot of the practices of these patients have shifted from that to giving total neoadjuvant therapy, where we bunch the chemotherapy and chemotherapy upfront prior to the patient undergoing surgery. And this study really asked us to take a look at both practices and ask the question of which one is better and is it possible to de-escalate care for patients who get upfront chemotherapy and omit the chemoradiation and still have similar outcomes.  

I thought it was very interesting that this was done in a non-inferiority-type manner, and we can talk more about that in a few minutes as well. But taking that all into context, the fact that in this study, that the non-inferiority endpoints were met for both disease-free survival as well as overall survival in the patients who were able to omit chemoradiation, I think in the big picture sense told us that there truly might be a patient subset where—this is in patients with T2 node-negative disease or T3 node-negative or T3 node-positive disease—where we might be able to safely exclude the chemoradiation and still have similarly effective outcomes for these patients. 

Dr. Shaalan Beg: Those are great points, especially when we have started to think about colon cancer and rectal cancer as many different diseases based on their location. And we know that in some instances their biology can be different as well.  

Can you talk a little bit about who those patients are that were enrolled on this trial? Because when I think about the German rectal study (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa040694) that led to us using neoadjuvant chemoradiation, the data was really around pelvic control of disease and sphincter preservation. So how did the patients who enrolled in this trial (https://meetings.asco.org/abstracts-presentations/219804) relate to the typical person with rectal cancer who walks through your doors?  

Dr. Shiraj Sen: Yeah, great point. I think we should point out the inclusion-exclusion criteria for this study. These patients were only those who were, again, T2 node-positive or T3 node-positive or negative, patients for whom chemoradiation would be indicated in the setting, and patients for whom they’d be good candidates for sphincter-sparing surgeries. So, tumors that are quite up high. These are not for individuals who have tumors requiring an APR. These are not f…

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