The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) are co-sponsoring the Immunotherapy Workshop: Incorporating Radiation Oncology into Immunotherapy, which will take place June 15-16, 2017, on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
The mainstream and scientific press have both paid a lot of attention to cancer immunotherapy (CIMT) over the past several years. For many patients, this therapy has provided a cure when no other treatment has produced any durable response, but there are still many hidden complexities and considerable challenges to be addressed before the promise of CIMT can be realized.
CIMT is a true paradigm shift in the treatment of patients with cancer, with some hailing IMT as the fifth pillar of modern-day cancer therapy. Major challenges for CIMT are the relatively small frequency of patients that respond to single-agent IMT, how to rationally design IMT combinations among the dizzying array of novel options, the lack of reliable biomarkers to predict patient response and emerging acquired resistance mechanisms that so far remain unknown.
Unlike CIMT, which is an emerging treatment for cancer, radiotherapy is a stalwart pillar of cancer therapy. The field of radiation oncology has vigorously demonstrated the curative benefits of improved control in localized and locally advanced cancers. In the metastatic setting, radiotherapy also plays an important role in local palliation. The far-reaching impact of combining radiotherapy with CIMT is stark and potentially practice-changing.
The marriage between radiation and CIMT agents is still in its infancy, but it is an area of great promise and it may change the longstanding reach of radiation as an exclusively local therapy and extend it to much wider use. This significant shift will only happen if we can understand how to best combine radiation with CIMT.
The Immunotherapy Workshop will explore many of the questions surrounding this promising new approach to cancer treatment in a full program of sessions and discussions. Abstracts are currently being accepted. Three will be chosen for oral presentations and others will be selected for poster presentations at this Workshop. To submit an abstract, see details on the program, or to register go to www.astro.org/immunotherapyworkshop.