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From The Editor

TON - June 2020, Vol 13, No 3 - From the Editors
Beth Faiman, PhD, APRN-BC, AOCN
Founding Editor in Chief

The June issue of The Oncology Nurse-APN/PA (TON) is filled with important news and insights for today’s oncology nurse. We begin our coverage with highlights from recent webinars held by the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care (AVBCC), during which leading experts addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on oncology delivery systems and the management of patients with cancer. In a noteworthy presentation on patient advocacy, a panel of specialists in the healthcare provider and charity sectors discussed the impact of the pandemic on patients with cancer (see here).

“They are worried about getting the virus, they are anxious or isolated, they are concerned about delays in their cancer care. And they are fearful that they will not be able to access necessities of daily living,” said Elizabeth Franklin, PhD, MSW, Executive Director, Cancer Policy Institute, Co-Chair, Policy & Advocacy Committee, Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.

In a separate presentation, moderated by Ted Okon, MBA, Executive Director, Community Oncology Alliance, Washington, DC, a panel of healthcare executives discussed how the crisis is reshaping the ways in which community cancer centers provide care for their patients and the challenges that providers are facing as they navigate an evolving healthcare ecosystem (see here).

“There’s been a myriad of challenges that practices have faced trying to keep patients out of the hospital while trying to continue treating them and communicating with them,” Mr Okon said.

In addition to the AVBCC webinar coverage, we also feature a profile of Mayo Clinic’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Department, as we speak with Michel Benz, MSN, RN, OCN, about her roles and responsibilities at the center, some of the challenges and rewards she faces in her day-to-day duties, and how a team-based treatment approach can improve the lives of patients with cancer (see here).

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is witnessing first-hand the high-quality care we provide to our patients and to see them succeed with good outcomes so they can move on with their lives,” Ms Benz said.

This issue of TON also includes highlights from recent oncology meetings, with a focus on new therapies aimed at improving clinical outcomes for patients with cancer.

In a presentation at the 2020 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Pavlos Msaouel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, discussed promising results from a trial evaluating a combination of the investigational drug sitravatinib plus nivolumab in patients with pretreated metastatic clear-cell renal-cell carcinoma (see here).

“With a median follow-up of 17.7 months, median overall survival has not been reached, and currently 30 of 38 patients are alive. The combination has an acceptable safety profile,” Dr Pavlos told attendees.

In a session during the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research virtual annual meeting, Lajos Pusztai, MD, DPhil, Director, Breast Cancer Translational Research, Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, CT, discussed encouraging results from a trial evaluating the combination of durvalumab, olaparib, and chemotherapy with paclitaxel used as neoadjuvant therapy in patients with high-risk HER2-negative stage II or III breast cancer (see here).

“The idea behind the combination was to boost the immune response by adding an anti–PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, since PARP inhibitors are known to increase the expression of the PD-L1 protein in the tumor,” he said, explaining the rationale for this approach to treatment.

Discussant Pamela N. Munster, MD, Leader, Experimental Therapeutics Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco, agreed that the results offer hope to specific subsets of patients with breast cancer.

“The subset analysis presented by Dr Pusztai shows more benefit for the triple combination in the ultra-high MammaPrint group than in the lower-risk group. This may allow us to select patients who may benefit from a checkpoint inhibitor plus PARP inhibitor, and not use chemotherapy,” she said. “We await the results of confirmatory trials stratified for PD-L1 expression and BRCA mutation and homologous repair deficiency status,” she added.

We hope you enjoy this issue of TON and look forward to receiving your feedback. You can contact us via e-mail at [email protected].

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Last modified: July 29, 2020