2022 Annual Scientific Meeting Highlights

The Dynamic Face of Lung Cancer was certainly showcased at our 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting, with presentations illustrating the latest research and clinical practice in surgery, diagnostics, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and prevention of risk factors for thoracic cancers.

Held as a ‘hybrid’ event, the event attracted 150 face to face attendees and a further 129 virtual attendees, who came together to learn of advances in quality thoracic cancer care, to discuss their application in the local healthcare environment and to develop cross-cutting research capacity.

ASM22 Convenor Dr Melissa Moore and A/Prof Zarnie Lwin
ASM2022 Convenor Dr Melissa Moore opened the meeting, ably assisted by A/Prof Zarnie Lwin, member of the ASM2022 Local Organising Committee

Professor Ming Tsao, Pathologist Scientist and Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, and Professor of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, discussed the evolution of Major Pathological response (MPR) as an endpoint in neoadjuvant chemotherapy trials, and the limitations that need to be overcome for its use in neoadjuvant immunotherapy clinical trials. Prof Tsao also described how PDL1 expression related to responses in neoadjuvant immunotherapy trials, and that a consistent predictive biomarker to select patients for neoadjuvant chemoimmunotherapy remains to be identified.

Dr Charu Aggarwal, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Haematology-Oncology Division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and Physician Leader for the clinical research program for Airways Malignancies at Abramson Cancer Center presented on “Plasma-based genotyping in NSCLC”, or, as it is more commonly called, liquid biopsy. A key take home message from her presentation was that using concurrent plasma and tissue next generation sequencing for identification of oncogenic-driver mutations increased delivery of targeted therapy from 21% to 36%.

Prof Eric Lim presenting on VIOLET trial
Profeesor Eric Lim, cardiothoracic surgeon, and PI of the VIOLET trial, demonstrated the many beneficial findings of VATS compared to open lobectomy for early-stage lung cancer

Professor Eric Lim, Consultant Thoracic Surgeon at the Royal Brompton Hospital and Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College London, and PI of the Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic or Open Lobectomy in patients with early-stage lung cancer (VIOLET) trial, guided us through the findings of this study. Briefly, participants in the VATS arm experienced less pain, shorter length of hospital stay, fewer in hospital adverse events, and fewer complications and readmissions and better physical function outcomes. The cost-effectiveness of VATS at 1 year was a savings of 46,000 pounds.

Professor Stephen Lam, Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Canada, described as a ‘giant’ in lung cancer research by chair A/Prof Henry Marshall, presented on lung cancer screening in people who had never smoked. Following the results of the TALENT study that used LDCT to detect lung cancer in non-smokers, Taiwan has implement a bi-annual LDCT screening program for both smokers and people with a family history of lung cancer. Professor Lam also presented associations between lung cancer rate and PM2.5 air pollution exposure, race (ethnicity) and gender, concluding that these may be risk factors that warrant screening in non-smokers.

TOGA Patient research advocates
We were pleased to welcome TOGA Patient Research Advocates to our ASM

Outstanding presentations from local speakers covered a diverse range of topics to appeal to the multidisciplinary audience of thoracic cancer clinicians, researchers, patient advocates and other clinical research staff. Of particular interest, was the presentation by Adrienne MacKenzie, who shared her nursing  experience in Central Australia. She illustrated the challenges of obtaining some of the basic services for lung cancer patients in such a remote location, but also spoke of her dedication in ensuring that her patients, many of whom were for indigenous communities, remained at the centre of all decisions about their care.

This presentation was complimented by a presentation from Prof Gail Garvey, a Kamilaroi woman from the 2nd largest Indigenous Nation on the east coast of Australia, and Senior Principal Research Fellow, and Professor of Indigenous Health Research at the University of Queensland, Australia. Prof Garvey detailed some of the experiences of First Nations people with cancer, how care priorities differ from non-indigenous Australians, and the development of the SCNAT-IP, a supportive needs care assessment tool for indigenous Australians that can facilitate communication about care needs.

The program also featured an update for TOGA members and a Scientific Committee meeting, where TOGA members presented their research proposals seeking peer-review and TOGA endorsement. The Scientific Committee meeting demonstrated TOGA’s recent efforts to establish collaborations with laboratory research to maximise the insertion of correlative studies into trial proposals and offer the clinical context to laboratory research.

Award winners
TOGA ASM22 Award winners Mrs Melissa Laan, Dr Marliese Alexander and Dr Arutha Kulasinghe

An oral abstracts session allowed contenders for the New Investigator Award to demonstrate their presentation and research finesse, with the award ultimately too close to call and shared between Dr Marliese Alexander and Dr Arutha Kulasinghe for their respective presentations on ‘Lurbinectedin in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – initial experience of an Australian early access program’ and ‘Multiomic and spatial dissection of immunotherapy response groups in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)’. Melissa Laan was awarded the poster prize for her poster on ‘Time to Diagnosis and Treatment of Lung Cancer Patients: an audit of patients diagnosed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital’.

We congratulate all oral and poster presenters on the outstanding quality of presentations.

ASM 2022 attendees Dr Lauren Gray, Dr Joe Wei, A/Prof Steven Kao, Prof Ben Solomon
Lots of smiling faces as we met in person for the first time in 2.5 years

Undoubtedly the biggest highlight was meeting together face to face after 2.5 years and the first face to face ASM as TOGA. At the conference dinner, we were honoured to present Prof David Ball OAM and Mr Barry Robson with our inaugural TOGA Life Member Awards.

Barry Robson is President of the Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia and has made a remarkable personal contribution in supporting sufferers of asbestos disease and raising awareness of issues that still affect the building industry worldwide today. Prof David Ball OAM boasts a career at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre spanning more than 45 years, with much of this time devoted to lung cancer, both treating patients and conducting cutting-edge research. He became Director of Peter Mac’s Lung Service in 1981, when lung cancer radiation treatment consisted of pain relief and palliative care. Throughout his career, his research has contributed to the evolvement of curative radiation treatment for lung cancer. Among his individual achievements are the 2011 IASLC Merit Award, the 2012 Tom Reeve COSA Award and in 2019 he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia. We congratulate both Prof Ball and Mr Robson on their remarkable achievements and their dedicated service to thoracic cancers.

TOGA Life Member Awards
Left- Prof Ben Solomon presenting a Life Membership Award to Prof David Ball OAM; Right- Barry Robson, receipient of TOGA Life Membership Award, with Kate Robson

Other highlights included:

  • Smoking Cessation: Latest Evidence and Starting the Conversation with Patients- A/Prof Henry Marshall
  • The Future of Cancer Clinical Trials, the Australian Cancer Plan and
    the National Lung Cancer Screening Program- A/Prof Vivienne Milch, Cancer Australia
  • Updates in targeted therapies and TOGA clinical trials led by Prof Ben Solomon
  • Stage III NSCLC- Dr Dasantha Jayamanne
  • Reducing the brain complications of radiotherapy- Dr Harriet Gee
  • An update on the DREAM3R trial and what’s hot in mesothelioma- A/Prof Steven Kao, Dr Peey Sei Kok, Prof Ken O’Byrne
  • Why do never-smokers get lung cancer?- Dr Venessa Chin
  • Multidisciplinary Masterclass
  • Membership updates, oral abstracts session and TOGA scientific committee meeting
Speakers at TOGA Annual Scientific Meeting 2022

TOGA ASM 2022 presenters from L to R- Dr Mark Nalder, Dr Harriet Gee and A/Prof Steven Kao

Read about more upcoming events in the TOGA education calendar. General enquiries for these events can be directed to info@thoraciconcology.org.au or find more information about our Education Program.