The American Society of Clinical Oncology has released “Clinical Cancer Advances 2010,” the society's annual report on progress against cancer. This year's report highlights 12 major advances and 41 notable advances, selected by a 14-person editorial board of expert oncologists.
The report highlights those studies that have had the greatest impact on patient care, the report's Executive Editor, Mark G. Kris, MD, said in a news release. “Yet much work is still needed to advance clinical cancer research and care. We're on the verge of great discoveries, but we will not be able to speed the pace of progress without revitalizing the nation's clinical trial system.”
In the report, ASCO calls for a doubling of funds for the National Cancer Institute's Cooperative Group trials program over the next five years. In real terms, funding for the program has actually declined over the past decade, limiting the number and speed of these important studies, the society notes.
The report also urges the cancer community to collaborate on implementing the recommendations laid out in the recent Institute of Medicine report, “A National Cancer Clinical Trials System for the 21st Century: Reinvigorating the National Cancer Institute Cooperative Group Program” (OT, 5/10/10 issue).
The research advances made this past year selected from ASCO for the report focus on progress against cancer, hard-to-treat cancers, reducing cancer recurrence, targeted therapies and personalized medicine, quality of life, and new drug approvals.
Highlights of this year's report include:
* Reducing the risk of cancer recurrence—specifically, that a three-week hypofractionated radiation therapy course was just as effective in preventing recurrence as the standard five-week course for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
* Enhancing quality of life: Patients with advanced lung cancer who received standard chemotherapy coupled with palliative care immediately after diagnosis lived significantly longer and had a better quality of life than those who were treated with chemotherapy alone.
* Advances in drug therapies: First-line treatment with the FOLFIRINOX combination of fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin resulted in better response rates, progression-free survival, and overall survival for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
* Addressing side effects: It is now evident that the majority of patients (about 80%) undergoing chemotherapy for cancer suffer from sleep difficulties, a rate approximately two to three times higher than what is seen in the general population. This is a clear area where more awareness is needed so patients can get the additional help they need, the ASCO panel said.
* Improving progression-free survival in hard-to-treat cancer: Studies found that administering chemotherapy and bevacizumab, followed by longer-term treatment with bevacizumab, was the most effective strategy for extending progression-free survival in patients with ovarian cancer.
Additional significant developments discussed in the report were:
* The discovery that ipilimumab extends survival in patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma.
* A study showing that the targeted drug crizotinib produces high response rates and shrinks tumors in many patients whose tumors harbor a specific gene mutation in the ALK gene.
* Findings from an early-stage trial of advanced melanoma showing that a novel gene-targeted therapy, PLX4032, caused tumors to shrink in a majority of patients with a specific BRAF gene mutation.
* A chemotherapy combination that was found to increase survival in elderly patients with advanced lung cancer, and is well-tolerated by these patients.
* A report issued by leading US health and cancer organizations showing continued declines in cancer incidence and death rates over recent years. The FDA approvals of cabazitaxel (Jevtana) and sipuleucel-T (Provenge) for metastatic hormone-refractory prostate cancer.
The full 48-page report is posted at http://www.cancer.net/cca, along with all the previous reports.