ASCO Highlights the Year in Oncology Advances

The annual Clinical Cancer Advances report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology highlights the accomplishments made in the last year in the fight against cancer.

The annual Clinical Cancer Advances report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) highlighted the accomplishments made in the last year in the fight against cancer, and named immunotherapy the cancer advance of the year.

The report, released February 4 to coincide with World Cancer Day, acknowledged that research progress may be incremental from one year to the next, but the cumulative knowledge and progress made has resulted in tangible benefits for patients.

“Compared with when I started my career in oncology, today we do the unthinkable. We no longer treat cancer simply by its type or stage,” wrote Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “In the era of precision medicine, we select—and rule out—treatments based the genomic profile of each patient and the tumor. We manage once-debilitating adverse effects to the point that many, if not most, patients can continue their daily activities during treatment.”

Advance of the Year

Research in 2015 found that immunotherapies improve outcomes for difficult-to-treat cancer. New immunotherapies directed against PD-1 and PD-L1 are not only more effective than the first immunotherapy drug, but they have fewer adverse effects.

Reports in 2015 indicated that PD-1/PD-L1 blockers may be potential new options for patients with advanced disease who have exhausted standard therapy options. Experimental immunotherapies have also shown success with certain blood cancers and glioblastoma.

“This continued wave of success with immunotherapies, which has extended beyond just a few tumor types, promises to transform cancer care, thus making it ASCO’s Advance of the Year,” the authors wrote in the ASCO report.

Other Accomplishments

The report also discussed precision medicine, which has made steady gains against cancer resistant to traditional therapy, the recognition that maintaining or improving quality of life for patients is an important part of cancer care, and FDA approval of 10 new cancer treatments.

In addition, the report acknowledges federal funding for cancer research, which has led to significant advances. However, recently funding for cancer research has stagnated, and Dr Vose called for more investment to help conquer cancer.

“Clinical Cancer Advances 2016 represents and acknowledges the collective wisdom that has made progress against cancer possible,” Dr Vose wrote. “I hope these achievements will inspire all of us to do our part to further accelerate the pace of research and discovery to help the millions of people who are living with cancer and the millions more who will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.”