Dr. O'Dwyer and Dr. Schnall
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Female doctor consulting with older male patient
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Dr. O'Dwyer and Dr. Schnall
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Female doctor consulting with older male patient
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News in Brief, October 2023

News in Brief

Pennsylvania Medical Society Honors Edith Mitchell

The Pennsylvania Medical Society named Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, FRCP, the 2023 Distinguished Service Award recipient. This recognition is the highest honor a member can receive from the society, and it celebrates lifetime achievements in medicine.

Dr. Mitchell is co-chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group's (ECOG-ACRIN) Health Equity Committee. She is the enterprise vice president for cancer disparities at Jefferson Health's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where she is also a clinical professor of medicine and medical oncology and director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities. Notable among her many national leadership roles are appointments with the National Medical Association, President's Cancer Panel, and Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

The award's first recipient in 1956 was Jonas E. Salk, MD, honored for his role in developing the anti-polio vaccine.

Lynne Wagner Joins UNC-Chapel Hill

Lynne I. Wagner, PhD is now with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a nominated professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member, where she will establish a UNC Lineberger Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Center of Excellence.

Dr. Wagner's research expertise spans psychosocial oncology, eHealth interventions in cancer survivorship, PROs, and cancer symptom management. She directs ECOG-ACRIN's expansive Cancer Control and Outcomes Program with the group co-chairs and represents the program as a deputy chair on the Executive Committee. Within the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), she is the principal investigator of the ECOG-ACRIN NCORP Research Base.

Dr. Wagner joins UNC from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where she was a professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy. She also served at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center as the director of Research and Clinical Integration in Cancer Prevention and Control and co-director of the Qualitative and Patient-Reported Outcomes (Q-PRO) Shared Resource.

Jon Steingrimsson Becomes Associate Group Statistician

In September, the Group Co-Chairs appointed Jon Steingrimsson, PhD, as an associate group statistician. He is based in the ECOG-ACRIN Biostatistics and Data Management Center at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he provides statistical leadership on studies of cancer screening, diagnosis, and prediction.

In his new role, Dr. Steingrimsson brings extensive data science expertise to ECOG-ACRIN during a time when the field is rapidly expanding in oncology. He will be heavily involved in developing new statistical methodology for randomized and observational studies. Examples include machine learning from clinical and imaging data, domain adaptation, and assessment of the generalizability of study results. He will also steward the design and analysis of studies that relate to social determinants of health—the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

Dr. Steingrimsson is an assistant professor of biostatistics at the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, a partnership of Lifespan and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He obtained his PhD in statistics from Cornell University in 2015 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University before joining Brown University and ECOG-ACRIN in 2017.

Associated Press Highlights TMIST 

Are 3D mammograms better than standard 2D imaging for catching advanced cancers? A global feature story by the Associated Press explores the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST), recruiting thousands of volunteers—including a large number of Black women who face disparities in breast cancer death rates—to try to find out. Read Breast cancer is deadlier for Black women. A study of mammograms could help close the gap by Carla K. Johnson, October 17, 2023. 

Enrollment in TMIST stands at 92,991 women as of October 17, 2023 (towards the goal of 128,905). The trial is running in the United States, Canada, South Korea, Peru, Argentina, and Italy. The study chair for this trial is Etta D. Pisano, MD (University of Pennsylvania/American College of Radiology).

Key Updates to Active Trial EA3191 

The EA3191 trial is for patients with recurrent or second primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with high-risk features. The primary objective is to evaluate overall survival for patients who receive adjuvant pembrolizumab for 12 months compared to those who receive adjuvant reirradiation plus concurrent platinum chemotherapy.

Effective with Addendum #7 (v.06/16/23), Arm A, the pembrolizumab + reirradiation arm, was removed from EA3191. All patients already randomized to Arm A at the time of Add. #7 activation can continue on the study, per protocol. Please refer to the protocol for complete details.

Learn more about EA3191 on ecog-acrin.org.

Key Updates to Active Trial EA2197

The EA2197 (OPT-IN) trial is for patients with gallbladder cancer discovered incidentally during non-urgent surgery to remove the gallbladder for another reason. The primary objective is to determine the difference in overall survival for patients who receive gemcitabine and cisplatin chemotherapy before and after surgery compared to those who receive gemcitabine and cisplatin only after surgery.

Effective with Addendum #2 (v. 07/20/23), patients may receive chemotherapy at non-enrolling/non-registering sites for their convenience, per the requirements in Appendix VI (new protocol appendix).

This addendum includes clarifications and changes to increase patient eligibility and help participating clinical sites. Please refer to the protocol for complete details.

Learn more about EA2197/OPT-IN on ecog-acrin.org.

Reminder: Register for the Fall 2023 Group Meeting

There is still time to register for the ECOG-ACRIN Fall 2023 Group Meeting, taking place in person at The Westin Washington, DC Downtown Hotel (formerly a Renaissance property), 999 9th Street Northwest, Washington DC, from Wednesday, October 25-Friday, October 27. View the schedule on the Group Meeting website and then register for three days of engaging sessions highlighting the latest in basic, clinical, and translational research.

Featured Sessions

Group leaders encourage attendees to take part in the following sessions (all times are Eastern Time):

Wednesday, October 25

  • Health Equity Plenary Session | 10:00-11:00 AM
  • Young Investigator Symposium | 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
  • Robert L. Comis, MD Translational Science Symposium | 3:00-5:00 PM
  • Task Force on Advancement for Women Update and Networking Hour (All Attendees Welcome) | 6:30-7:30 PM and 7:30-8:30 PM

Thursday, October 26

  • ComboMATCH and MyeloMATCH Update and Education Session | 8:00-9:00 AM
  • General Session and Reception | 5:30-7:30 PM and 7:30-9:00 PM

Friday, October 27

  • TMIST Update and Education Session | 8:00 AM-9:00 AM
  • Pharmacist, Oncology Nurse, CRA/Data Manager Education Symposium | 9:30-10:30 AM

European Urology Focus Publishes BRIDGE Study Update

The ongoing phase 3 trial EA8212 (BRIDGE) is enrolling patients with early-stage bladder cancer to compare gemcitabine plus docetaxel chemotherapy (GEMDOCE) to standard first-line bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunotherapy. While BCG provides long-term recurrence-free survival for some patients, 30-50% will have a recurrence within 2 years. In addition, there are dose-limiting toxicities with BCG and unpredictable access due to manufacturing issues and increased global demand. During the BCG shortages, many urologists have turned to GEMDOCE as a replacement.

The BRIDGE trial is a necessary next step in demonstrating the non-inferiority of the GEMDOCE regimen compared to BCG in the frontline setting. Study chair Max Kates, MD (Johns Hopkins University) and colleagues discuss the study and the preliminary data on GEMDOCE, justifying its use, in a Clinical Studies Update in European Urology Focus (requires a paid subscription).

ComboMATCH Activity Increases with Participation from Nearly 30 Labs 

For patients interested in participating in the ComboMATCH precision medicine treatment trials, the results of their tumor tests will reveal whether they have tumor gene abnormalities targeted by the drug combinations being studied. Currently, 13 commercial testing laboratories actively inform oncologists at participating trial sites when patients' tumor test results show a potential match to a ComboMATCH trial. Another 16 academic labs in universities and at the NCI are identifying potential trial candidates from their patient populations, with three more academic labs activating soon. View the complete list of NCI-designated ComboMATCH laboratories.  

Interest Grows in the Role of the Gut Microbiome in Cancer

Although microbial therapies for cancer are still at a very early stage of clinical development, compelling research has shown that changing the gut microbiome can help improve outcomes in patients receiving treatments for cancer. Diwakar Davar, MD (University of Pittsburgh/Hillman Cancer Center) and Ben Boursi, MD (Tel Aviv University/Sheba Medical Center) discuss this topic in the latest episode of the ASCO Daily News Podcast: Changing the Gut Microbiome to Improve the Efficacy of Immunotherapy. Listen here or on your favorite platform.


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