ASCO Top 2012 Advances: Precision Medicine, Cancer Screening, Overcoming Treatment Resistance

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO's Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer has identified the top advances for 2012 as precision medicine, cancer screening, and overcoming treatment resistance.

The report, now in its eighth year, documents the progress made in clinical cancer research and highlights the year's most significant developments in research and policy.

This includes two new therapies that delay progression of advanced breast cancer; a finding that preoperative chemotherapy and radiation improves survival for patients with esophageal cancer; a study showing screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy reduces colorectal cancer incidence and death rates; and research showing a new targeted treatment extends survival for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

In her message preceding the annual report, published in Journal of Clinical Oncology online December 3, ASCO President Sandra M. Swain, MD, highlighted continued progress against cancer, the importance of clinical cancer trials, bridges to better care—including launch of CancerLinQ, a groundbreaking initiative that “will improve cancer care and speed research by drawing insights from the vast pool of data on patients in real-world settings”—and renewing a national commitment to cancer research.

Progress includes FDA approval, between October 2011 and October 2012, of seven new anticancer agents and expanded indications for five existing drugs, including carfilzomib for some forms of myeloma, liposomal vincristine for leukemia, pertuzumab and everolimus for breast cancer; vismodegib for skin cancer, enzalutamide for prostate cancer, imatinib mesylate for GIST; cetuximab, zivaflibercept, and regorafenib for colorectal cancer; axitinib for kidney cancer, and pazopanib for sarcoma.

“Almost all of the newly approved drugs are targeted agents, meaning that they are designed to block the activity of specific proteins involved in tumor growth,” the report states. “One agent, vismodegib, marks the first FDA approval of a drug that targets the hedgehog signaling pathway, which plays an important role in tissue growth and repair. The drug is also being tested in clinical trials for colorectal, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.”

The report features 87 studies, 17 of which were designated as major advances by the 21-person editorial board of renowned experts in specific fields of cancer research. Specific advances are detailed in sections devoted to blood and lymphatic, breast, CNS, GI, genitourinary, gynecologic, head and neck, lung, skin, and pediatric cancers as well as melanoma and sarcoma. Other sections focus on Tumor Biology and Developmental Therapeutics, Prevention and Screening, Patient and Survivor Care, Care of Elderly Patients with Cancer, Quality Cancer Care, Cancer Disparities, and Policy Environment: ASCO in Action in 2012.

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