Media Toolkit
ASCO meeting


Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania will be presenting data on the latest advances in cancer research and treatment at American Society of Clinical Oncology virtual annual meeting from June 4-8. Watch this space as embargoes lift during the meeting.


Experts from the Perelman School of Medicine are available to comment on a wide range of cancer research topics during the meeting by telephone or email. To arrange interviews, please contact Steve Graff at or 671-688-2485. Follow us on Twitter at @PennMedNews and @PennMedBench.

New Releases

Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center Doubles the Percentage of Black Participants in Clinical Trials

“Electronic Nose” Accurately Sniffs Out Hard-to-Detect Cancers


Other noteworthy abstracts and awards to be presented at ASCO:

  • Olaparib Shows Significant Clinical Benefit for Early-stage, BRCA+ Breast Cancers

The PARP inhibitor olaparib has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer returning in patients with high-risk, early-stage disease who harbor BRCA mutations after receiving standard care, according to results presented during a plenary session at ASCO and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine. Co-author Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, serves as the principal investigator for the OlympiA trial at Penn and on the OlympiA Clinical Trial Executive Committee. The phase III, double-blind, international clinical trial showed that adding olaparib for one year following standard treatment for patients reduced the risk of their breast cancer returning by 42 percent. 

The findings, for the first time, show that olaparib—which is used today to treat advanced ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and breast cancers—can successfully treat early-stage breast cancer in patients with an inherited BRCA mutation. 

“The OlympiA trial results will likely open the door to better treatment options for patients with high-risk, early-stage breast, similar to how Herceptin changed the game for women with HER2 positive early-stage cancers,” Domchek said. “The findings also underscore the importance of genetic counseling and testing, which can connect patients to the right and appropriate treatments earlier.” 

  • Pembrolizumab Significantly Improves Survival in Patients with Aggressive Kidney Cancer  

Patients with high-risk, clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) who relapsed after surgery had significant improvement in disease-free survival when treated with the immunotherapy pembrolizumab compared to patients on a placebo, according to a new study co-authored by Naomi Haas, MD, director of the Prostate and Kidney Cancer Program and a professor of Hematology-Oncology, to be presented during a plenary session. The results were based off the KEYNOTE-564 study, and represent the first positive phase III study with a checkpoint inhibitor in the adjuvant setting for the treatment of RCC. “These results support the use of pembrolizumab as a potential new standard of care for these patients, who currently have limited options,” Haas said. 

The findings will be presented during a plenary session (#LBA5) on Sunday, June 6 at 1:00 PM EST. 

  • Fluorescent Marker Identifies Hard-to-Spot Ovarian Cancer Lesions During Surgery 

    A novel fluorescent marker, known as a pafolacianine sodium injection, identified ovarian cancer lesions during surgery that may have otherwise been left behind, according to new results from a phase III clinical trial to be presented by Janos L. Tanyi, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Imaging of folate receptor positive ovarian cancer with pafolacianine sodium—which binds to receptors overexpressed in cancer cells to make them glow under infrared light—identified additional lesions in 36 out of 109 patients. “These results support the use of this tool to help make hard-to-spot malignant lesions more visible and provide greater certainty of complete resection of tumors,” Tanyi said. In March 2021, the approach was granted “priority review” by the FDA for approval during surgery.

    Tanyi will present the findings during an oral abstract session (#5503) on Monday, June 7 at 8 am EST.

  • Cabozantinib Significantly Improves Progression-Free Survival in Patients with Differentiated Thyroid Cancer 

Patients with radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) who progressed after prior VEGFR MKI therapy had significant improvement in progression-free survival when treated with the targeted therapy cabozantinib compared to patients treated with a placebo, according to new results to be presented by Marcia S. Brose, MD, PhD, a professor of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery and director of the Center for Rare Cancers and Personalized Therapy at the Abramson Cancer Center, and principal investigator of the trial. A more favorable overall survival trend was also observed in patients treated with cabozantinib. The results were based on the international phase III COSMIC-311 study, which met its primary endpoint. In February 2021, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to cabozantinib for these patients, based off earlier studies led by Brose. The latest results will serve as the basis for the supplemental new drug application to the FDA in June.  “Cabozantinib may represent a new standard of care in patients with previously treated DTC,” Brose said.  

Brose will present the findings during an oral abstract session (#6601) on Monday, June 7 at 2:45 p.m. EST.


Several studies showing the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care will be presented, including:

  • Abstract (#5061) co-authored by Daniel J. Lee, MD, an assistant professor of Urologic Surgery, that found a steep drop in prostate cancer treatments during the pandemic.
  •  Abstract (#1528) to be presented by Samuel U. Takvorian, MD, an instructor of Hematology-Oncology, that found patients diagnosed with advanced cancer had a shorter time to initiate therapy. 
  •  Abstract (#6509) co-authored by Charu Aggarwal, MD, the Leslye Heisler Assistant Professor of Medicine in Hematology-Oncology, that found improved rates of severe COVID illness and mortality after June 2020. 
  • Abstract (#e13580) to be presented by Cody Cotner, a PSOM medical student, on the use of Cancer COVID Watch, an automated, text messaging-based tool to monitor symptoms in cancer patients. 


Erin Bange, MD,  Zachary Frosch, MD, and Kelsey Lau-Min, MD, fellows in the division of Hematology/Oncology and the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation, have been named recipients of the Young Investigator Awards from Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation. 

The award provides funding to promising investigators as they transition from fellows to faculty. Details about their newly funded research projects can be found here.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.9 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $496 million awarded in the 2020 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.

Share This Page: