Clinical Cancer Advances 2012
ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer
Each year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology conducts an independent review of advances in clinical cancer research that have the greatest potential impact on patients’ lives.
This year’s report, Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer, features 87 studies, 17 of which were designated as “major” advances by the report’s 21-person editorial board.
The large number of advances featured in this year’s Report affirms the remarkable payoff of national investments in clinical research on cancer prevention, screening, treatment and quality of life for patients with cancer.
This year's report highlights:
New Therapies Help Overcome Treatment Resistance
Too often, certain cancers respond to initial treatment but eventually develop resistance and grow. Research reported in the past year brought new, effective options for several difficult types of tumors.
Realizing the Promise of Precision Medicine
Oncology is rapidly transitioning to an era where patients receive treatment tailored to the unique genetic make-up of their tumors. Researchers now know that even subtle genetic differences can make one tumor responsive and another resistant to the same drug.
Major advances in this field include:
New Insights on Cancer Screening
About one-third of all cancer cases could be prevented, primarily through lifestyle and dietary changes, or by early detection through screening. This year, researchers gained important new insights into screening, especially for colorectal and lung cancers.
New FDA Approvals Fill Urgent Treatment Gaps
Based on encouraging results from large clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved seven new anti-cancer drugs and expanded indications for five existing agents between October 2011 and October 2012.
The approvals bring new treatment options for patients with certain forms of myeloma (carfilzomib); leukemia and lymphoma (liposomal vincristine); breast cancer (pertuzumab and everolimus); skin cancer (vismodegib); prostate cancer (enzalutamide); gastrointestinal stromal tumors (imatinib mesylate); colorectal cancer (cetuximab,ziv-Aflibercept, and regorafenib); kidney cancer (axitinib); and soft-tissue sarcoma (pazopanib).
Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP
As you read the following pages of this report, I hope you will share my unabashed enthusiasm—and pride—in how far we have come. To appreciate what this progress has meant to the millions of people who receive a cancer diagnosis each year, consider that:
These dramatic trends – and the advances highlighted in this report – would have been unthinkable without the engine that drives life-saving cancer treatment—clinical cancer research.
Advances in technology and in our knowledge of how patient-specific molecular characteristics of the tumor and its environment fuel cancer’s growth—have brought new hope to cancer patients. Clinical trials are the key to translating cutting-edge laboratory discoveries into treatments that extend and improve the lives of patients.
But progress is only part of the story. Cancer remains a challenge, with many cancers undetected until their latest stages and others resisting most attempts at treatment. Tragically, cancer still kills more than 500,000 people in the United States every year and its global burden is growing rapidly.
To conquer cancer, we need to build bridges to the future: bridges that will get scientific advances to the patient’s bedside quicker; bridges that will enable us to share information and learn what works in real time; bridges that will improve care for all patients, around the world.
At ASCO, we recognize the unique role that oncologists must play. ASCO’s Blueprint for Transforming Clinical and Translational Cancer Research, published last year, presents our vision and recommendations to make cancer research and patient care vastly more targeted, more efficient, and more effective. We have also launched a groundbreaking initiative, CancerLinQ, that aims to improve cancer care and speed research by drawing insights from the vast pool of data patients in real-world settings.
We are on the threshold of major advances in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment—but, only if, as a nation, we remain committed to this critical endeavor.
The federally-funded cancer research system is currently under threat by larger federal budget concerns. Clearly, Congress faces a complex budget environment, but now is not the time to retreat from our nation’s commitment to conquering a disease that affects nearly all of us. Bold action must be taken to ensure that we can take full advantage of today’s scientific and technological opportunities.
Please join me in celebrating our nation’s progress against cancer and in recommitting ourselves to supporting cancer research. Millions of lives depend on it!
Clinical Cancer Advances: Major Research Advances in Cancer Treatment, Prevention, and Screening is an annual report that the American Society of Clinical Oncology first published in 2005.
This ASCO report summarizes the most important advances in clinical cancer research over the past year.