By Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, MD, PhD
Chair, 2020 ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium Program Committee
For a long time, it was questioned as to whether immunotherapy would work in breast cancer. But with multiple strategies now being investigated to combine immunotherapy with other targeted agents that are already effective in patients with breast cancer, the future looks promising.
I’ve spent much of my career in surgical oncology with a specialized focus on breast cancer. Early on, I met a patient whose breast cancer had returned 15 years after being treated. And I wondered why. It seemed like her immune system hadn’t done its job, and something needed to change. I then had the wonderful opportunity to work with George Peoples, MD, founder of the Cancer Vaccine Development Program. There, I was inspired by his vision and decided to pursue and complete a doctorate in immunology. My interest in immunotherapy had been kindled.
I realize I am incredibly lucky to have been able to combine my passion for research and clinical oncology to improve patient care. I’d like to see every patient have a chance to beat cancer. The idea of using the immune system to fight cancer is a robust, exciting new frontier. But this isn’t a single disciplinary approach. There is so much we can learn from each other—across fields and disease states.
The ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium offers oncology professionals the opportunity to learn more about immunotherapy and implications for everyday practice. This is our opportunity to come together and deeply impact the lives of so many people.
While my focus may be on breast cancer, as chair of the Symposium Program Committee, I know there are plenty of multidisciplinary perspectives to be had. From immunotherapy indications for gastrointestinal cancers to understanding and defining resistance to managing toxicities, there is something for every oncology professional. I encourage you to check out our diverse program.
I personally enjoy the opportunity to converse with clinicians and researchers from oncology professions all over the world to learn more about novel approaches and care management pathways. The networking opportunities at the Symposium—early-career luncheons, guided poster walks, topic-led roundtables—offer an endless supply of knowledge, expertise, and practical implications.
What does the future of immunotherapy look like for oncology? Be a part of the conversation. Join us February 6-8 in Orlando.