As part of HRW’s OR:BIT (Oncology Research: Business Insights Team) ongoing pursuit of the most up-to-date science and developments in the Oncology space, Kirsty Page, Associate Director and member of OR:BIT (Oncology Research : Business Intelligence Team) recently attended ESMO 2019 in Barcelona.

Kirsty joined a number of fascinating sessions at this incredible five-day conference and shares her highlights below.

Well, ESMO 2019 has come to an end and what a spectacle it has been! As thousands of tired but happy attendees filed out from the aggressively air-conditioned Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via Conference Centre, and flew away from the warm and welcoming Spanish city, how can I describe the ESMO 2019 experience?



The scale of the conference was huge; almost indescribably so, with packed throngs of attendees (identified by their very own, high-fashion, orange and red ESMO attendee rucksacks) battling their way to attend multiple seminars, poster sessions, food courts and pharma stands.

And boy, was there a lot to see and learn! Headline acts for me in particular were developments in Ovarian and Prostate cancer, the former of which (based on the PRIMA/ENGOT and PAOLA-1/ENGOT trial data) earned a sense of stunned silence from a packed hall based on PFS outcome data that demonstrated the benefits of adding a PARP inhibitor (olaparib) to bevacizumab in 1L. PARP inhibitors played a significant role in ESMO this year; new data coming across multiple tumour types means this is an exciting time for the targeted therapy.



Seminars, proffered papers, poster sessions and Presidential Symposiums were all well attended,
with standing room only for many. Impactful new data left audiences hanging on every word, as they meant meaningful clinical benefits for patients. The PROfound and CheckMate 9KD studies offer hope for mCRPC patients, updated BEACON trial data shows unprecedented overall survival in the 2nd line treatment of CRC and extremely promising results point toward a shift in neo-adjuvant therapy for triple negative breast cancer. And there was so much else!

Hearing the patient voice brought to life this year was so valuable. The Hans Keulen Memorial Debate, a small session with about 40 attendees, including patients, care givers, patient advocates, Oncologists as well as a medical Ethicist, came together to discuss a very big question in Oncology, “How far would you go?” in relation to when was the time to stop treatment or indeed pursue it vigorously in an attempt to extend life. No clear answers emerged, as you would expect, but emotions ran high, and patients often struggled to give clarity to what is a very individualised experience (“For some, time is quality, for others quality doesn’t mean time”), whilst a clearly distressed family member whose father had given up on treatment and given his family no time to say goodbye, tugged at the collective heart strings.



Being given the opportunity to attend ESMO this year, drink in the science, hear from different speakers and from different perspectives, as well as having the time to speak to our clients, has meant ESMO 2019 for me has been an exhausting, but inspiring few days. It’s left me feeling reassured that so many great steps forward have been made, but also hopeful that the necessary future leaps are within touching distance.

Thanks, so much for having us ESMO 2019. We look forward to seeing you again next year!


By Kirsty Page

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