Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in Singapore and the world.
The World Conference on Lung Cancer, the largest international gathering of clinicians, researchers and scientists in the field of lung cancer - with more than 6,000 participants - was held from 28 January to 31 January 2021 as a worldwide virtual event hosted by Singapore.
A group of Singapore clinicians and scientists presented new data to enhance understanding and treatment of lung cancer in the Asian population at the conference.
Clinicians and scientists from Singapore shared exciting new data on lung cancer treatment in the Asian population at the World Conference on Lung Cancer Singapore, last week.
Lung cancer develops very differently in Western and Asian populations, which makes understanding the disease from an Asian perspective a research priority for Singapore and the region.
In Asian lung cancer patients, the most common genetic alteration is the EGFR mutation which occurs more commonly in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Over the years there has been an increase in the proportion of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) among all lung cancer cases, making NSCLC the most prevalent form of lung cancer in Singapore (50%).
NSCLC is unique as it occurs in patients who are both smokers and non-smokers. An added complication to treating NSCLC is that many lung cancer patients display TKI-drug resistance, or resistance to anti-cancer drugs, making NSCLC very difficult to treat.
These findings are of particular concern in Singapore as lung cancer has been one of the leading cancers in the past fifty years, and was the top cause of cancer death among males and the second leading cause of cancer death among females, with 6,064 deaths in Singapore from 2013 to 2017.
The Lung Cancer Open Fund - Large Collaborative Grant (OF-LCG) Programme, co-headed by co-chair of the Conference, Associate Professor Daniel Tan, Senior Consultant, Division of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), looks at improving the understanding of lung cancer in Asian patients and seeking new treatment pathways to improve survival outcomes.
The Lung Cancer OF-LCG Programme, which is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore and administered by the Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council, is led and championed by leading clinicians and scientists from major healthcare and research institutions including NCCS, National University Cancer Institute Singapore (NCIS), National University Hospital Singapore (NUHS), Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI), Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), as well as the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) and the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) .
The Lung Cancer OF-LCG Programme team presented new data at the Conference to show key molecular features of EGFR-mutated TKI-drug resistant patients, share results of trials on a novel combination therapy approach as well as report the natural history of early stage cancer.
These abstracts were presented during the scientific oral abstract sessions where top ranking abstracts were featured. The team's research sharing also provide a valuable resource for genomic lung cancer research (See Annex A below for more information).
"Our research is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of clinician-scientists, clinicians, researchers, molecular biologists and computational biologists who used a wide range of approaches to examine lung cancer and how it particularly affects the Asian population.
The collaboration and integration of methods demonstrates the Lung Cancer OF-LCG Programme's continued efforts to find new ways to improve treatment outcomes in what can be a challenging disease to treat," said Assoc Prof Tan, senior author of the research presentations, who is also Deputy Head of the Division of Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Sciences, NCCS.
An example of those efforts is the creation of THOR, a multi-omics genomics platform that hosts thousands of lung cancer samples presented at the Conference by Dr Anders Skanderup. Dr Skanderup, a scientist from GIS, who is the Big Data Theme lead on the Lung Cancer OF-LCG Programme and member of the Conference's scientific committee, said, "Our work highlights the importance of integrated databases for use by local clinicians and scientists to facilitate collaborations and make new discoveries, as well as helping advance precision medicine."
Assoc Prof Tan added "This flagship conference also features important plenaries looking at the impact of precision medicine on oncologic care, new targeted and immunotherapies in thoracic malignancies, as well as lung cancer screening in never smokers."
The World Conference on Lung Cancer, is the largest gathering of international scientists, researchers and patient advocates in the field of lung cancer and thoracic oncology and was held from 28 January to 31 January 2021.
The conference is a key event in the International Association of the Study of Lung Cancer calendar and this year adapted from an in-person event to a worldwide virtual event, due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the planning and delivery of the summit conducted in Singapore.