Immunotherapy is the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) top cancer advance of the year.1

Speaking at a briefing on Capitol Hill on World Cancer Day, February 4, ASCO President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, and colleagues presented Clinical Cancer Advances 2016: ASCO’s 11th Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer.

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“In just a few short years, researchers and regulators have moved several different immunotherapy strategies from bench to bedside,” the report stated.

“From the first astounding successes in advanced melanoma, there is now evidence that immunotherapy works against a range of cancers,” it stated. These include non small-cell lung cancer, advanced bladder cancer, renal cell carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, head and neck cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 2 primary cancer immunotherapy strategies being explored are “unleashing the body’s natural immune response to cancer”; the second is to help “the immune system find and destroy cancer cells.”

The report also identified approximately 60 important cancer research advances, from prevention, to treatment, to improving patient quality of life.

Cancer Therapy Advisor asked Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, co-executive editor, Clinical Cancer Advances 2016 and ASCO Expert how cancer immunotherapy was determined to be ASCO’s Advance of the Year.

“Each year, ASCO convenes an editorial board of experts representing multiple aspects of oncology, general and subspecialty, community-based and academic. Each editor recommends findings either published or presented in the past year (October 2014 to October 2015) and then consensus [is] reached as to what should be in the report. We also discuss which of these represent a substantial development, and this becomes our Advance of the Year. I can honestly say that this year, the choice of immunotherapy was not controversial, especially given the remarkable progress we have seen, and continue to see.”

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Other themes in the annual report revolved around enrolling patients in clinical trials, precision medicine, funding, and the recently announced federal “Moonshot” initiative being spearheaded by US Vice President Joe Biden.

Dr Dizon, who is clinical co-director, gynecologic oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, MA, and serves on the Advisory Board for Cancer Therapy Advisor, also weighed in on those topics.