ASCO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Schilsky recently joined ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis to discuss the 2019 Clinical Cancer Advances (CCA) report on the ASCO in Action Podcast. The CCA report identifies the most important clinical research advances from the past year across the full trajectory of cancer care, ranging from prevention and screening to treatment and survivorship. The discussion highlights the 2019 Advance of the Year—progress in treating rare cancers—as well as the debut of ASCO’s Nine Research Priorities to Advance Progress Against Cancer in this year’s report.
Rare cancers have been defined as those that account for less than six of 100,000 diagnosed cancers and for 20% of all cancer cases each year in the United States, though definitions and incidence rates differ around the world. However, according to Dr. Schilsky, since there are so many kinds of rare cancers, when considered in total, rare cancers are not all that rare.
“This year, we’re seeing for the first time some real progress being made in a number of these rare cancers,” he says. “The science is moving us towards a day where we will be identifying cancers primarily, if not exclusively, by their genomic profile.”
Turning to ASCO’s Nine Research Priorities to Advance Progress Against Cancer, Dr. Schilsky acknowledged the unmet medical needs and clinical challenges that oncologists face every day in practice, but also pointed to the opportunity that the society had to identify areas where patient care can be improved most significantly, where the field of oncology can continue to grow, and where evidence gaps need to be filled. The nine identified priorities form a research agenda that aims to address the areas of unmet need, highlight opportunities, and articulate how cancer care may be transformed.