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Yale Cancer Center Research Presented at ASCO GI 2022

January 21, 2022

Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital scientists and clinicians are presenting research studies at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal (GI) Symposium. This year’s meeting offers new, innovative findings in GI cancer treatment, research, and care. Two Yale studies highlighted at the symposium include:

Cancer tracking system improves timeliness of liver cancer care at a Veterans Hospital

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer, requires complex care coordination with opportunities for care delays and untimely follow-up of abnormal liver imaging results. In this study, Yale Cancer Center researchers evaluated whether an electronic tracking system improved timeliness of HCC care at the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS).

Patients diagnosed with HCC in the 37-months before tracking system implementation were compared with patients diagnosed with HCC in the 71-months after implementation of the tracking system. Using manual chart review, the first imaging study suspicious for possible liver cancer was identified; dates of specialty care appointments, diagnosis, and first treatment were recorded. Researchers found this tracking system was effective in reducing time first suspicion of HCC on screening images to HCC treatment by an average of 179 days.

“Our tracking system did indeed improve timeliness of HCC diagnosis and treatment,” said Yale lead author Amanda Ivatorov. “We anticipate our system may improve HCC care coordination and delivery, especially when added to HCC screening protocols.” However, Ivatorov added, further study is still needed in larger and more diverse patient samples. Other Yale authors on the study include Catherine Mezzacappa, MD, MPH, and Tamar Taddei, MD, senior author of the research.

Clinical significance and biomarker potential of MGMT protein measurement in colorectal cancer

O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase or MGMT is a principal mechanism of repairing DNA damage. In this study, Yale Cancer Center researchers showed MGMT protein downregulation occurs in twenty percent of colorectal cancers and is associated with increased adaptive anti-tumor immune responses, mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency, and survival. MGMT deficiency may alter DNA repair in tumor cells and mediate the accumulation of antigenic mutations or neopeptides, independent from MMR status.

“Our results support a biomarker role of MGMT protein and suggest a role for immunotherapy combinations in MGMT deficient tumors,” said lead author Janie Zhang, MD, a Clinical Fellow in the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program at Yale Cancer Center. Zhang was named a 2022 ASCO Foundation Conquer Cancer Merit Award recipient for the research. The award recognizes oncology fellows and trainees who are first authors on top-ranking abstracts selected for presentation at the Symposium. Other Yale authors of the study include Michael Cecchini, MD, Shruti Desai, PhD, and Kurt Schalper, MD, PhD, senior author of the research.

Submitted by Anne Doerr on January 21, 2022