Clinical Cancer Advances in 2012

We hear so much news about cancer research, drugs and treatments that it is easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. Fortunately, The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) publishes a yearly report which brings together all of this information in a useable, consumer-friendly way. 

Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer” features 87 studies, 17 of which have been designated “major advances,” meaning these advances are considered practice-changing and had to have been published in a peer-reviewed journal and/or report on a treatment that received FDA approval in the past year.

Major advances in 2012 were achieved in the areas of:

Overcoming 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.

Personalized 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.  One example is the Cancer Genome Project.

New results from this federally funded cancer research initiative revealed potential new drug targets in colorectal cancer, identified biological processes critical for cancer cell survival, and proposed innovative ways to predict whether chemotherapy would be effective in patients with ovarian cancer, based on tumor biology.

Cancer Screening and Lifestyle: 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 Drug Approvals: 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; leukemia and lymphoma; breast cancer; skin cancer; prostate cancer; gastrointestinal stromal tumors; colorectal cancer; kidney cancer; and soft-tissue sarcoma.

If you are interested in keeping up with cancer breakthroughs, I encourage you spend some time looking at the 2012 report or this summary.  The ASCO website is also a valuable and trusted source on cancer with information on many types of cancer, diagnoses, treatments and the constellation of issues related to a cancer journey.

About Elisabeth Schuler Russell

The curator of this blog is Elisabeth Schuler Russell, Founder and President of Patient Navigator, LLC. Her goal is to inform readers about important healthcare topics and teach them to become informed healthcare consumers.
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