We attended The European International Kidney Cancer 2021 virtual meeting in April, providing insights into clinical developments in renal cancer. The meeting was fascinating, and of note was the remarkable pace of research yielding new insights into treatments.
The keynote address was given by Dr David McDermott, Chief, Division of Medical Oncology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr McDermott challenged the audience to think about advanced renal cancer as a curable neoplasm.
To move into an era where we think in this way, Dr McDermott suggested that we need to treat patients who are predicted to respond well to therapy in a more aggressive manner. This will require new ways of predicting response to treatment, the discovery of new biomarkers and targets as well as new trials. We will also need to explore the end of point of trials in a more nuanced manner, and start thinking about “treatment free survival” as an output. This final point is key for patients – the difference between a continuous therapy with all the associated side effects versus a treatment that ends and provides a treatment free survival benefit is huge.
We are in a period where the potential of immunotherapies and combined treatments are close to being realised, and it was incredible to witness the change in approach and the grand challenge of curing kidney cancers and supporting patients to live treatment-free lives addressed.