The data overload came to an end yesterday, as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) wrapped up its annual meeting. If onslaught of press releases choked with "progression free survival" and "hazard ratios" has your head spinning, here's a synopsis of some of the themes from the most important cancer meeting of the year.

Buy the abstract, sell the presentation
The biotech version of "buy the rumor, sell the news" seems to hit a few biotechs every year. Unfortunately, this year was no different:

Company

Price Increase Day After Abstracts Released

Price (Decrease) During ASCO

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: KERX)

11.2%

(17.1%)

ZIOPHARM Oncology (Nasdaq: ZIOP)

9.7%

(11.4%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Neither had particularly bad data, in my opinion. ASCO just seems to make investors a little itchy. ZIOPHARM, for instance started its sell-off on Monday morning, well ahead of its afternoon presentation.

Both have a while until their phase 3 results become available, which may partly explain the sell-off. But if you're willing to be a patient investor, both companies are available at discount prices.

Big pharma, big time
After a spate of failures, it's been easy to discount big pharma's ability to develop new cancer drugs. But it seems we shouldn't send them in for an autopsy quite yet; pharma had had a couple of big hits during the meeting.

Positive data on Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) lung-cancer drug candidate, crizotinib, and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY) ipilimumab, which treats metastatic melanoma, were especially impressive, given that both go after tough-to-treat cancers. If they can get past the FDA -- and that's a bigger "if" for ipilimumab than it is for crizotinib -- their lack of competition should help with sales.

AstraZeneca also scored a win for its pipeline drug vandetanib in medullary thyroid cancer. The drug reduced the rate of progression by 54% compared to placebo. Vandetanib had previously failed to show an increase in survival for lung-cancer patients, so the revival is a pleasant surprise for investor. Unfortunately medullary thyroid cancer is a much smaller market than lung cancer, but beggars can't be choosers.

Been there, done that
New drugs weren't the only topic making waves at ASCO. Many drugmakers presented data for drugs that are already on the market, which should help push sales higher.

Second-line chronic myeloid leukemia treatment Sprycel, from Bristol-Myers Squibb, beat current first-line treatment Gleevec from Novartis (NYSE: NVS). The results should help Bristol get Sprycel approved for treating newly diagnosed patients, although it might have new competition from a second-generation Novartis drug called Tasigna.

Instead of exploring new patient populations, Roche and Celgene (Nasdaq: CELG) have taken the approach of testing their drugs for longer durations. Both Roche's Avastin for ovarian cancer and Celgene's Revlimid for multiple myeloma seem to work better when used as maintenance drugs. More doses equals more sales; the math doesn't get much simpler than that.

Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) presented data on its recently approved osteoporosis drug, Prolia, for treating cancers that have metastasized to the bone. We already knew the drug, which will go by a different name for the cancer indication, beat Novartis's Zometa in two trials. A full look at the data should give investors further confidence that it can get past the regulatory authorities in the coming months.

Headache over?
Unfortunately, no. We'll get a break from cancer, but the summer is crammed with medical meetings. The European League Against Rheumatism is up next week, where we'll get to hear about drugs against diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Then, at the end of the month, diabetes doctors will get together for the annual American Diabetes Association meeting.

Check back in, Fools. We'll be here to help translate the data for you.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Novartis is a Motley Fool Global Gains choice. The Fool has a disclosure policy.