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From the Co-Chairs, February 2021
February 25, 2021
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News in Brief, March 2021

News in Brief

Register Now for the Virtual Spring 2021 Group Meeting

Registration is open for the Virtual Spring 2021 Group Meeting, taking place online from Wednesday, April 28 – Friday, April 30. Please register for the meeting as soon as possible, and by no later than Friday, April 23. The meeting schedule is available on the Group Meeting website (subject to change). Session agendas are not yet available, but they will be posted to the meeting app in mid-April. Watch your inbox for announcements about the app.

Don't miss this opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn the latest in basic, clinical, and translational research. Secure your spot and register for the meeting today. Questions? Email gmp@ecog-acrin.org

Please note: Virtual Spring 2021 Group Meeting sessions are open to staff from ECOG-ACRIN member institutions, ECOG-ACRIN advocates, NCI/NIH employees, and invited guests only. We are unable to accommodate attendees from non-member institutions or industry.

Virtual Meeting Attendance Awards for Underrepresented Minority Trainees

ECOG-ACRIN offers attendance awards to encourage underrepresented minority trainees from ECOG-ACRIN member institutions to attend the Virtual Group Meeting. Minority trainees may include students, residents, fellows, and early career investigators. Other trainees focusing on minority health or health disparities research are also welcome to apply regardless of race or ethnicity.

Applicants must submit the following to bafflick@ecog-acrin.org by Friday, April 16:

  • Current CV or bio sketch
  • Brief cover letter describing:
    • Career goals and research interests
    • Relevant coursework and community service, and
    • Information or experience they seek to gain by attending the meeting
  • Letter of support from their department chair, section head or division director, or an ECOG-ACRIN principal investigator or ECOG-ACRIN committee chair within their institution

Awardees may attend any session other than those noted as ‘by invitation only.’ These sessions offer excellent professional and educational opportunities. Awardees will agree to periodic contact via email following the event. Communication may involve follow-up on their research activities, invitations to attend committee meetings, and requests for input on the benefit of conference attendance or other issues relevant to their participation in ECOG-ACRIN.

Fifth Month of Record Accrual for TMIST

During February, the TMIST breast cancer screening trial enrolled 2,063 new participants, marking the fifth straight month of strong accrual. Total study enrollment stands at 42,700 participants at 111 sites in the US and worldwide (as of March 29). Recently, the National Cancer Institute announced it will continue to fund TMIST and work with ECOG-ACRIN leaders to modify the study in a manner that will allow for completing accrual more quickly to answer the primary study question. Meanwhile, the study remains active. Sites should continue to enroll women. New sites should continue the onboarding process. Read the ECOG-ACRIN statement on the NCI announcement.

TMIST continues to recruit new sites! If your site is interested in offering this trial to your constituents, email TMIST@acr.org to discuss the study requirements, reimbursement/payment structure, and how to start the application process.

Twitter Thread by ECOG-ACRIN Leader Vincent Rajkumar, MD Goes Viral

A series of tweets shared last month by ECOG-ACRIN Myeloma Committee chair Dr. Vincent Rajkumar (Mayo Clinic) struck a chord as he recounted the story of patient advocate Mike Katz, and Mike’s role in developing clinical trial E4A03, Lenalidomide and Dexamethasone With or Without Thalidomide in Treating Patients With Multiple Myeloma. Mike was the catalyst for this trial, which ultimately established a new standard of care for patients with myeloma, sparing them from treatment with high-dose dexamethasone and improving their quality of life.

Mike Katz and Mary Lou Smith co-led ECOG-ACRIN’s Cancer Research Advocates Committee for many years, until Mike passed away in April 2015. Read the full Twitter thread for the inspiring story.

Edith Mitchell, MD Elected to Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians of London

Late last year, the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) named Dr. Edith Mitchell (Jefferson University/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center) a fellow of the RCP. The RCP was founded in 1518 by a Royal Charter from King Henry VIII. RCP fellows are distinguished consultants or Specialty and Associate Specialist doctors and are given the honor of using the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London (FRCP) post nominal. Fellowship is an accolade held by some of the most exceptional and innovative physicians in the world. It is a mark of achievement and skill as a doctor, recognizing one’s ongoing contribution to the profession, and amplifies one’s voice to shape the future of healthcare.

Dr. Mitchell currently serves as co-chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Health Equity Committee, and is also an active member of the Principal Investigator and Executive Committees.

Rationale for Study EA5181 Published in The Oncologist

Lung Cancer – A new publication authored by researchers in the ECOG-ACRIN Thoracic Committee provides an up‐to‐date assessment of how immunotherapy is reshaping the landscape of metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and how the impact of this therapy is rapidly moving into some patients with locally advanced NSCLC. The article also discusses the rationale for the phase III study EA5181, currently enrolling. EA5181 randomizes patients undergoing chemo/radiation for the treatment of unresectable stage 3 NSCLC to receive either concurrent immunotherapy (durvalumab) or no additional therapy (Step 1). Patients in both groups will receive durvalumab for one year following completion of Step 1. Varlotto JM. The Oncologist. 2021 Feb 17

Research Results

  • Breast Cancer – Why don’t patients tell their physician how they are really doing? In a recent editorial, ECOG-ACRIN deputy chair for Cancer Control and Outcomes, Dr. Lynne Wagner (Wake Forest School of Medicine), provides context for recent publications on patient-reported outcome measures (PROs). PROs can help physicians bypass the ‘I’m fine’ response and identify breast cancer patients who may be at risk of discontinuing endocrine therapy early. “Patients face inherent disincentives to reporting symptoms and toxicities,” says Dr. Wagner. “PROs provide a methodologically robust strategy to bring the patient’s voice to the clinical encounter.” Wagner LI. JNCI. 2021 Feb 15
  • Breast Cancer Screening – Imaging quality is a known technical challenge, particularly for smaller lesions, in diffusion-weighted breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique maps the diffusion of water molecules to generate contrast in MRI images. The A6702 multicenter trial confirms that apparent diffusion coefficient measures can improve breast MRI accuracy and reduce unnecessary biopsies. It also finds that technical issues rendered many lesions non-evaluable on diffusion-weighted imaging (McDonald ES. Radiology. 2020 Nov 17). A secondary analysis of data from A6702 suggests ways to improve the clinical utility of diffusion-weighted MRI. Whisenant JG. J Breast Imaging. 2020 Dec 24
  • Kidney Cancer – Important decisions, including treatment protocols, clinical trial eligibility, and life planning, rest on physicians’ ability to predict cancer outcomes accurately. Researchers in the ECOG-ACRIN Genitourinary Committee recently introduced a renal cell carcinoma prognostic model that predicts disease recurrence, early progression, and overall survival. The group developed and validated the model using prospective and highly annotated outcomes data from the phase III ASSURE trial (E2805). Performance characteristics of the tool exceed the predictive ability of available prognostic models. Correra AF. Euro Urology. 2021 Mar 9
  • Lung Cancer, Smoking Cessation – Examining the association between smoking status and overall survival was a secondary endpoint in study E1505, a phase III trial of adjuvant therapy following resection of stages 1B-3A non-small cell lung cancer (Wakelee HA. Lancet Oncol. 2017 Dec 18). Patients completed a questionnaire on their smoking habits at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. The resulting analysis is the first comprehensive, prospective report of smoking habits in patients from a phase III early-stage lung cancer trial. Steuer CE. J Thoracic Oncol. 2021 Feb 1
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) – Final results are now published for study E2905, a randomized phase III trial for patients with non-del(5q) MDS at a lower risk of progressing to acute myeloid leukemia. Patients in the trial had anemia resistant to—or at low probability of benefit from—treatment with recombinant erythropoietin. E2905 found that major erythroid response (MER) was significantly higher (28.3%) in the group that received lenalidomide and erythropoietin, compared to the group on lenalidomide alone (11.5%) (P =.004). Responses to the combined treatment were highly durable with a median MER duration of 23.8 months compared with 13 months with lenalidomide alone. List AF. J Clin Oncol. 2021 Mar 20
  • NCI-MATCH – The final results of Arm Z1A show that the oral drug binimetinib did not show promising activity in a group of 47 patients with refractory solid tumors harboring codon 12/13 and codon 61 NRAS mutations. However, the observation of increased overall survival and progression-free survival in codon 61 NRAS-mutated colorectal cancer patients merits further investigation. Regardless of their results, each NCI-MATCH arm and every patient provide new information about possible cancer treatments. Cleary JM. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 26

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