News from the AGA

Headlines from the 2018 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium


The 2018 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium took place Jan. 18-20, 2018, in San Francisco. During the meeting, investigators presented groundbreaking research designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of GI cancers. Here are some of the most noteworthy headlines from the 2018 meeting.

Promising Results Using Liquid Biopsy to Improve CRC Early Detection

Researchers in Taiwan developed a screening test for early colorectal cancer (CRC) detection that requires a simple blood draw to assess for circulating tumor cells in the blood. The test demonstrates 88% accuracy to detect all stages of colorectal illness, including precancerous lesions. If validated and made commercially available, this test could be readily integrated into a patient’s routine physical exam, thereby increasing CRC screening compliance.

CELESTIAL Results May Lead to Cabozantinib Approval in Second-Line HCC

The phase III CELESTIAL trial met its primary endpoint by demonstrating a survival advantage with cabozantinib in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that progressed following prior systemic therapy. Other outcomes included improvements in progression-free survival and objective response rate, as well as an acceptable safety profile, thus positioning cabozantinib for potential approval in the second-line setting in HCC.

RAINFALL Meets Primary Endpoint, But Ramucirumab Will Not Be Pursued for a First-Line Indication in G-GEJ Cancer

Results of the global, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III RAINFALL trial established the statistical benefit of ramucirumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting VEGFR-2, added to standard chemotherapy for patients with previously untreated metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (G-GEJ) adenocarcinoma. The findings revealed a significant 25% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death for the primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS). However, the reduction corresponded to only a 9-day improvement in median PFS, so the clinical benefit of frontline ramucirumab is debatable.

The Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium is cosponsored by AGA, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).

More news from the 2018 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium is available at

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