To much fanfare, over 5,000 abstracts have been released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology ahead of its 50th annual meeting in three weeks.

Pretty much every company with an oncology unit has published preliminary data on their offerings which will be presented at the ASCO meeting in Chicago. In its official programme, however, the society highlighted five studies, which include a trial that offers new insight on obesity's relation to breast cancer mortality in younger women and another which found that hormone therapy can be safely delayed following prostate cancer relapse in some men.

ASCO also put the spotlight on AstraZeneca's AZD9291 for treatment-resistant non-small cell lung cancer. Phase I data showed that roughly 50% of patients experienced tumour shrinkage, and the drug worked particularly well in those with the T790M mutation (detected in 60% of patients), which causes the most common form of EGFR therapy resistance. Importantly, AZD9291 appears to cause fewer skin toxicities than approved EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Staying with lung cancer, and ASCO gave prominence to a huge study which claims that implementation of recent US screening guidelines is expected to double early-stage diagnoses of the disease. However, it will add about $2.0 billion in Medicare costs annually.

ASCO also highlighted an early-stage study which shows that Daiichi Sankyo unit Plexxikon's new targeted drug PLX3397 is highly active in patients with recurrent pigmented villonodular synovitis, a rare joint disease.

Clifford Hudis, ASCO president, said that clinical trials are delivering on the promise of personalised medicine for both common and rare cancers. He added that "we're finding relatively simple ways to improve the quality of patients' lives during treatment".