Skip to main content


A vision for lung cancer and beyond: my top 3 reflections from this year's ASCO

A vision for lung cancer and beyond: my top 3 reflections from this year's ASCO

Every year I arrive at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Congress excited to hear from the sharpest minds in oncology as they discuss the latest frontiers that we are all trying collectively to advance. And every year, I leave with a renewed sense of my purpose: to change what it means to receive a cancer diagnosis.

This year was no exception, particularly as it (finally!) took place in-person again after a two-year hiatus. While virtual congresses have been invaluable as we continued to share knowledge despite the obstacles of the pandemic, I can’t deny that in-person congresses have their own special atmosphere.

Now, after a whirlwind few days in Chicago, I’ve had a chance to sit down and reflect on some of my key takeaways from ASCO 2022 – and share them with you here:

1. Targeted approaches go from strength to strength

As precision medicine continues to solidify its position as a crucial approach to cancer treatments both now and in the future, it's no surprise that targeted treatment approaches remained front and centre at ASCO as a promising avenue to improve outcomes for many different cancer types.

Over the last few years, it’s been incredible to experience first-hand the evolution of targeted therapies and see the promise they bring in cancers with significant unmet need, such as early-stage prostate cancer. By taking such an approach, there’s the potential to improve long-term patient outcomes and their quality of life, with the right product, for the right patient, at the right time.

So it was great to hear about the various targeted treatments and advances in precision medicine, from circulating tumour DNA testing around minimal residual disease to detecting predictive biomarkers that could impact treatment response . Whether efficacy is based on extending life, improving quality of life, or even potential curative intent, targeted therapies can help us to pursue this in a focused, precise way.

2. Showing process in lung cancer

In recent years, both understanding of the molecular biology of lung cancer and the introduction of new treatment options have evolved and improved.1,2 Yet lung cancer patients' survival and quality of life remain poor in comparison to other cancers, demonstrating that there is much more we need to do in this therapy area.1

Thankfully, ASCO showcased that the oncology community are not holding back in our efforts to better understand what is possible within lung cancer – for example, by harnessing the power of personalised medicine.

We are beginning to better understand the role of specific genetic mutations in some patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). By explicitly targeting these mutations, it may be possible to deliver more efficacious regimes tailored to an individual’s genetic make-up. Innovative treatment options like these can potentially have a huge impact on both lung cancer and other solid tumour cancer care moving forward.  

It was very interesting to hear first-hand some of the discussion among those in attendance around the clinical data in lung cancer and its’ implications, and I’m excited to see how this continues to develop over the rest of 2022.

3. The growing appetite for real-world evidence

Clinical data has and will always be an invaluable pillar of the scientific process. Real-world data adds an extra layer by allowing us to identify patterns outside of the controlled environments of clinical trials. It was really refreshing to see how these two came together during this year's meeting, as this is so important. Because although clinical trials can tell us about efficacy, real-world evidence indicates effectiveness — a subtle but significant differentiation.

For example, whilst some research shows significant differences in survival outcomes in late-stage NSCLC between real-world and clinical data, with real-world evidence offering a holistic overview of outcomes beyond what clinical data can provide.3 Understanding what drives these differences will therefore be crucial to changing clinical practice and ultimately what it means to receive a lung cancer diagnosis.

For this reason, it's essential for us to prospectively design clinical research that replicates real-world patient populations to best identify individuals who may derive the most benefit from a specific precision medicine.

Every ASCO brings us closer to realising our vision for cancers such as lung cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer: to ultimately eliminate them, and until that happens make them more manageable conditions.

It is a challenge we should aim to overcome and this will only work if we collaborate collectively as a global community through moments such as ASCO. We all know that collaboration unlocks change, and the conversations and encounters fuelled in recent days will be vital for accelerating the future of cancer care – taking science from where it is to where it has not been.

_ _ _ 


  1. Lung Cancer Europe. 5th LuCE Report on Lung Cancer: Psychological and social impact of lung cancer. 2020. Available at: Accessed May 2022
  2. Vyse S and Huang PH. Targeting EGFR exon 20 insertion mutations in non-small cell lung cancer. Signal Transduct. Target Ther. 4(5) (2019).
  3. Cramer-van der Welle CM, Verschueren MV, Tonn M, Peters BJ, Schramel FM, Klungel OH, Groen HJ, van de Garde EM. Real-world outcomes versus clinical trial results of immunotherapy in stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the Netherlands. Scientific reports. 2021;11(1):1-9.