ASCO is an invaluable venue where clinicians and scientists from different disciplines can meet and collaborate on common missions under the umbrella of improving the care experience for patients with cancer. COTA’s mission to provide a clear path to every person touched by cancer aligns well with this year’s annual ASCO meeting theme of Caring for Every Patient, Learning from Every Patient.

As we count down the days until we arrive in Chicago, we share the predictions for ASCO 2019 that our medical leadership team – Andrew Norden, MD, MPH, MBA, C.K. Wang, MD, and Elizabeth B. Lamont, MD, MS, MMSc – have made regarding topics like the role of precision medicine and RWE in the future of oncology care.

Advances in precision medicine will continue to fuel targeted therapy

For the past few years, immunotherapy and precision medicine have been huge healthcare buzzwords, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. By refining our understanding of which patients will respond to immunotherapy, we expect to hear presentations that reveal how to tailor therapy in a more precise manner. Abstracts on new targeted therapies are being announced and released monthly, proving that for certain individuals or patient populations, targeted therapies may be the best course of treatment for their disease.

New technologies will fuel the future of oncology care

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to be effective in fields such as pathology and radiology. Most recently, a Google algorithm, trained on 42,000 patient CT scans, outperformed six radiologists in lung cancer screening CT scans, detecting 5% more cancers and cutting false positives by 11%. While more testing is necessary before wide usage, AI could make widespread screening more feasible, ultimately freeing up more of a radiologist’s valuable time interpreting studies for which AI is not well-suited.

Increasing role of RWE in cancer care

A growing number of stakeholders, such as doctors, patients, payers, and life science companies, continue to extend the utility of real-world evidence (RWE) in cancer care, showing how it is relevant in the cancer care continuum from research to screening to diagnosis and treatment.

New technologies allow for an understanding of how to best harness and use big data from electronic health records (EHRs) in cancer care. If such real-world data (RWD) and the insight derived from the data (RWE) can be made available to oncologists, we anticipate the treatment planning and decision process will enter a new era of transparency and efficiency. The best treatment plans are those most in-line with an informed patient’s wishes.  Doctors and payers are increasingly looking toward RWE as a mechanism through which patients may work with their doctors to choose the optimal treatment path. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies are now able to include RWD and RWE to support new drug applications to the FDA and for extended labeling on drugs that are currently on the market.

Establishing social factors can help determine and evaluate care

Unlike clinical trials that focus on a very small, selected patient population, RWE has a greater potential to cover rare toxicities and subgroups. RWE also allows for greater study of the drivers of socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities in the quality of cancer care. Additionally, RWE provides an opportunity to better understand the patterns of patient comorbidity that put patients at excess risk of toxicity. In short, RWE is starting to lead to meaningful advances in our understanding of how “non-malignant factors” influence cancer screening, treatment, surveillance, and survival. Analysis of RWE has the potential to identify powerful predictors of receipt of quality cancer care that is relevant to usual care settings and potentially clinical trials.

With more macro-level data, patients’ geo-spatial social areas (i.e., “neighborhood”) and healthcare markets can provide valuable insight into the quality cancer care in a region. Regions with high rates of late cancer stage at presentation may be identified and become the focus of public health interventions.

Conversely, at the micro-level, patients’ molecular profiles and their association with treatment response and overall outcome will be a continued emphasis in clinical oncology as doctors, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies work to elucidate how to use this information to provide the best possible care to patients.

Come meet us! 

If you’re attending ASCO 2019 in Chicago, stop by and say hi! COTA will be at Booth #2063 and we’d love to connect with you to discuss how you think RWE can help inform decisions and action in oncology. If you’re interested in setting up a meeting, message us at meetus@cotahealthcare.com or fill out this quick form. It looks to be a remarkably innovative year at ASCO, and we can’t wait to be a part of it!