40,000 in attendance for 200+ exciting oncology presentations, networking and collaborations.

In the lead up to the 2024 ASCO annual meeting, oncology professionals were invited to “Come for the science, stay for the connection and leave with an inspiration that will drive you forward.” Aside from the science, this year’s ASCO theme was also focused on art. “The Art and Science of Cancer Care: From Comfort to Cure” 2024 presidential theme placed patients and their families at the center of many discussions. In her opening address, ASCO President Lynn M. Schuchter stated, “What I’m advocating is a re-emphasis on a fundamental concept in medicine dating back to Hippocrates: “To cure sometimes, to relieve often and to comfort always is all that may reasonably be expected of medicine.”

With patient wellbeing a stronger focus than ever before, palliative care was given as a top priority for oncology patients. Research indicates that palliative integration at diagnosis significantly improves quality of life and overall well-being, with some studies suggesting a potential for longer survival times. Currently only 3–4% of oncology clinicians are dual-certified in oncology and palliative care, so ASCO is piloting an ACGME-approved combined Hematology/Oncology and Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship. ASCO guidelines have also been updated to emphasize palliative care as an integrated, holistic part of patient treatment from the point of diagnosis.

Innovation in oncology research and clinical practice has always set the landscape for other therapeutic areas to explore, and the new grassroots initiative of Common Sense Oncology (CSO) is sure to create ripple effects in the future. The CSO vision is that patients will have access to treatments that provide meaningful improvements in outcomes that matter, regardless of where they live. Achieving this vision will require improvements in evidence generation, evidence interpretation and evidence communication. Headed by a group of clinicians, academics, policymakers and patient advocates from health systems around the world, CSO seeks to ensure that both industry and academia are focused on clinical trial endpoints that improve the quality of life for patients and do not come at the expense of compromised quality of life due to side effects, time toxicity and financial toxicity.



ASCO 2024 was the first full-blown, live-attendance conference since COVID, and the atmosphere was extremely positive with lots of collaborations, side conversations, relationship building and camaraderie. George Clinical was well-represented with Rachel Condjella, Project Director & Regional Therapeutic Area Lead, Oncology; Gillian Ryan, Global Head of Early Phase; multiple members of the business development team; and members of George Clinical’s global oncology scientific leadership team, including Dr. Herbert Loong, Dr. Mustafa Khasraw, Dr. Mitesh J. Borad, Dr. Ralph Boccia, Dr. Ari Vanderwalde and Dr. David Thomas. The team continues to reinforce our global oncology relationships and create new collaborations with sponsors, CROs, KOLs and partners such as Advarra who has helped us to expedite IRB approvals for clinical trials. 

“Options for patients with cancer continue to advance with many new and modified treatments entering Early Phase trials. Whilst this focus on developing better treatments remains important, the focus on patient centricity in Early Phase oncology trials is an important shift in the landscape of better therapy developmentnot only from an efficacy viewpoint, but in terms of ensuring that the key needs of patients are at the forefront of treatment options.” Gillian Ryan, Global Head of Early Phase



With 200+ sessions, there was plenty of cutting-edge oncology research for the 40,000 attendees to explore and discuss.


Breast Cancer

There were rapid updates in the treatment guidelines for early breast cancer. Clinical data has previously proven CDK4/6 inhibitors as effective treatment for late-stage advanced breast cancer. With that efficacy well-established, further research into the effects of CDK4/6 in earlier stages is providing late-breaking data showing better outcomes in invasive disease free survival for this expanded group of patients.


Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

For patients with newly diagnosed chronic phase, chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), data from the ASC4FIRST trial suggest that asciminib may be a safer and more effective treatment option than tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Not only did asciminib have superior efficacy over TKIs, but it also had a higher safety profile with fewer adverse events, drug interruptions and drug discontinuations. The results thus far are extremely promising. Longer follow-up is planned to determine long-term benefits and safety profile.


Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

The Phase III CROWN study evaluated the long-term outcomes of lorlatinib versus crizotinib in patients with previously untreated, advanced, ALK-positive non–small cell lung cancer with very favorable outcomes after five years of follow up. Lorlatinib has shown the longest-ever PFS in advanced, ALK+ NSCLC. This is considered an “unprecedented” improvement in outcomes for patients.


Colorectal Cancer

Treatment options for locally advanced MMR-deficient rectal cancer currently include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Although effective, these treatments are also associated with a decline in quality of life. Early results of a GSK Phase II study have shown a 6-month treatment of a PD-1 blocking monoclonal antibody resulted in no patients requiring additional therapy or experiencing disease recurrence. With PD-1 blocking showing such successes in sustained remission, the improvement in quality of life will be significant—especially as conventional treatments often become ineffective as the disease progresses.


AI in Oncology

ASCO 2024 certainly acknowledged the role that AI is soon going to have in benefiting research, clinical practice and patients. In order to ensure that this technology is understood and navigated carefully, ASCO is creating a framework of principles for AI’s responsible use in oncology care. With benefits like faster, more accurate diagnosis, AI will help patients get the most appropriate treatment for their specific cancer. AI can also free healthcare professionals from many routine tasks and give them more time to focus on patients. In a way, AI will become a major player in “The Art and Science of Cancer Care” by giving clinicians and researchers more time for the human interface—for compassion—for ensuring that cancer patients and their families receive the personal care and respect that will ensure they have the comfort, relief and guidance they need.