ASCO Holds Research Summit on Obesity and Cancer

November 4, 2014

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today convened its first-ever research summit to discuss challenges and opportunities in obesity and cancer research with representatives from many leading U.S. research institutions, cancer centers, and other organizations and federal agencies.

ASCO was prompted to hold the “Research Summit on Advancing Obesity Clinical Trials in Cancer Survivors” by the increasing body of evidence linking obesity to cancer incidence and to complications in cancer treatment and outcomes, and the need for additional research to help inform responses to this growing public health concern.

"Although research to date clearly links obesity to many common cancers, critical research is needed to translate current knowledge into effective treatment and prevention strategies,” said ASCO Immediate Past President Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP. “This meeting is an important first step in identifying how we can help guide the nation’s obesity and cancer research agenda and, ultimately, help our patients for whom obesity is a growing health concern.”

The daylong summit included an evaluation of the current research on obesity and cancer populations, a discussion on the most pressing questions that should be studied in future clinical trials (including lifestyle intervention studies that could change oncology practice), and an examination of funding, implementation, and coordination strategies for advancing obesity research in cancer survivors.

The meeting concluded with a robust discussion among all participants who identified possible next steps for advancing obesity research in cancer survivors. As a next step, ASCO plans to reach out to other fields that conduct related research, such as cardiology, endocrinology, and internal medicine and develop recommendations for moving a research agenda forward.

The “Research Summit on Advancing Obesity Clinical Trials in Cancer Survivors” builds on ASCO’s recently released obesity and cancer policy statement, which calls for the development of a comprehensive, coordinated research agenda to address key questions, including:

  • Can weight loss actually reduce the risk of developing or dying from cancer?
  • Should obesity be treated differently in cancer survivors, versus people at risk for cancer?
  • How and when should weight management interventions be initiated with cancer patients?

“Research has clearly established that there is a critical relationship between cancer and obesity, but more work is needed to determine whether weight loss, increased physical activity, and improved dietary quality can lower cancer rates and improve outcomes,” said ASCO Energy Balance Working Group Chair Jennifer A. Ligibel, MD, who also serves on ASCO’s Cancer Survivorship and Cancer Prevention Committees. “No single organization or medical specialty can address obesity alone. Today's summit, involving more than 35 experts from across the United States, provides an important step in finding ways to move this area of research forward in a more effective way to develop evidence-based solutions for our patients.”

To see list of summit participating organizations, please click here. To learn more about ASCO’s work on obesity and cancer, visit www.asco.org/obesity. 

ASCO in Action