Annual Oncology Update Shared Latest Research Findings With South Florida Physicians

The conference highlighted studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2023 meeting and sessions discussed the multidisciplinary and comprehensive resources Sylvester offers.

South Florida cancer professionals learned about the latest national research findings at the “Sylvester Annual Oncology Update 2023” Sept. 30 in Fort Lauderdale.

Gilberto Lopes, M.D., addresses fellow South Florida cancer researchers at the Annual Oncology Update.

Twenty specialists at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth, the University of Miami health system, presented dozens of studies at the day-long conference co-hosted by OncLive, an oncology education service.

“There have been many impressive advancements in the past year that are changing the way we treat patients and offer hope for longer and better lives,” said Gilberto Lopes, M.D., chief of the Division of Medical Oncology, associate director for global oncology at Sylvester and chair of the Annual Oncology Update. “At Sylvester, we offer a comprehensive approach to care with access to leading-edge treatments, including many therapies being developed right here at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.”

Research Across the Cancer Spectrum

From lung, pancreatic and blood malignancies, to breast, prostate, and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, Sylvester specialists discussed dozens of clinical trials presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting June 2-4, as well as their work.

“Oncology is the fastest-growing field of medicine in terms of new drugs and treatments being developed,” said Aman Chauhan, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine, leader of neuroendocrine oncology and co-director of theranostics. “We believe it is crucial to distill the new information for our community oncologists who can apply these therapies to their patients.”

Dr. Chauhan noted that more than 80% of South Florida cancer patients are treated by community physicians, so medical education is a vital aspect of Sylvester’s services.

“As a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated center, we have a responsibility to support our peers in the community,” he said.  “Together, we can develop new treatments and bring them seamlessly to South Florida patients.”

Community Partner in Cancer Care

South Florida community oncologists took advantage of the Annual Oncology Update to learn from Sylvester researchers and discuss the latest advances. For instance, Timmy Nguyen, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Florida, asked Agustin Pimentel, M.D., a GI medical oncologist, about why a type of immunotherapy that can be effective in some colorectal cancers does not work with tumors in the liver.

Panelist researchers speaking at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center's Annual Oncology Update.
Annual Oncology Update provides cancer researchers with the opportunity to discuss the latest research findings.

“Dr. Pimentel’s comments were helpful, as I see many GI cancer patients in my general oncology practice,” he said. “Sylvester is a top research facility and this is a great way to learn about the latest findings.”

Ramon Arguelles, M.D., a radiation oncologist with Genesis Care, said he appreciates Sylvester’s annual updates.

“It helps me keep abreast of the latest developments in my field,” he said. “I always get good information at these events.”

For Saad Sabbagh, M.D., an oncology clinical research fellow at Cleveland Clinic Florida, the conference offered an in-depth overview of promising clinical treatments.

“I learned so much about the different fields,” he said. “That was exactly what I hoped the conference would deliver.”

A Unique Resource for Cancer Researchers

As an academic medical center, Sylvester plays a unique role in South Florida, said Abdulrahman K. Sinno, M.D., director of surgical research and education at Sylvester and associate professor of clinical obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences for the Miller School.

“We are a multidisciplinary, comprehensive resource for physicians,” he said. “That includes clinical trials for patients who have exhausted the standard therapies and for advanced surgical options, including complicated procedures that require multidisciplinary teams.”

Dr. Sinno added that Sylvester’s wide-ranging services include genetic counseling and testing to determine the most appropriate therapy for individual patients, as well as psychological, nutritional and other types of support for patients and families.

“Our team is dedicated to every aspect of patient care from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship,” he said.

Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the myeloma division, co-leader of the Translational and Clinical Oncology Program at Sylvester and professor of Medicine at the Miller School, said he interacts frequently with community oncologists, including a recent referral of a challenging case.

“Our world-class doctors can review a case, give a second opinion and advise on treatments for patients who relapse,” he said. “We recognize the need for advanced care through the community, as Florida has about 10 percent of the nation’s myeloma patients – far more than any other state.”

New Studies, New Strategies for Cancer Care

During the Annual Oncology Update, Sylvester specialists presented a myriad of studies on new treatments, including strategies to help patients with cancer-causing genetic mutations.

Several talks highlighted the emerging potential of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which can bring highly potent chemotherapies directly to tumor cells. Dr. Lopes outlined how ADCs are being studied for treating non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“This is a new strategy in our field, although our colleagues have been using ADCs in breast cancer patients for some time,” he said. “In the future, we may use more ADCs and smaller doses of chemotherapy.”

Breast cancer medical oncologist Carmen Calfa, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine in Plantation, discussed several studies relating to aggressive subtypes of the disease.

“Clinical research is saving the lives of our patients,” she said.

Dr. Sinno told attendees about advances in checkpoint inhibitors for front-line treatments for endometrial cancers, while Dr. Chauhan outlined advances in radiopharmaceutical treatments for small-cell lung cancer.

Later in the day, Dr. Landgren provided updates on the immunotherapy options for treating newly diagnosed and first-relapse multiple myeloma patients. He also outlined a new monoclonal antibody strategy for engaging disease-fighting T cells to bind with cancer cells. 

Reflecting on the importance of scientific and clinical research in advancing frontline cancer care, as well as treatments for relapsed patients, Dr. Sinno said, “We have come a long way in providing tailored treatments for individual patients. The future is brighter today than ever before.”

Tags: cancer research, Dr. Abdulrahman K. Sinno, Dr. Aman Chauhan, Dr. Gilberto Lopes, Dr. Ola Landgren, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center