Annual report highlights 2012 cancer advances

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released a nearly 100-page report detailing the year's most significant developments in cancer screening, precision cancer medicine, and overcoming resistance to cancer treatment.

Among the most notable achievements cited in Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO's Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer are the following:

  • Two new therapies delayed the progression of breast cancer. One combines the aromatase inhibitor exemestane with targeted therapy in the form of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor everolimus, and one combines the HER2 antibody trastuzumab with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) lapatinib.
  • In addition, a “smart bomb” in the form of an armed antibody called T-DM1 (consisting of two chemically linked anticancer agents: trastuzumab and the chemotherapy drug DM1, or emtansine) improved survival in HER2-metastatic breast cancer.
  • TKIs showed promising activity against treatment-resistant forms of leukemia (ponatinib and ibrutinib) and soft-tissue sarcoma (pazopanib).
  • The report lauded new agents that attack more than one target in a molecular pathway: regorafenib, which has benefited patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors or metastatic colorectal cancer; crizotinib, which works against neuroblastoma and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in children; and cabozantinib, which appears to slow progression of medullary thyroid carcinoma.
  • The androgen receptor inhibitor enzalutamide improved survival in, and became a new standard treatment option for, men with prostate cancer that had progressed despite initial chemotherapy.
  • Research revealed that preoperative chemotherapy and radiation were found to improve survival among persons with esophageal cancer.
  • A study showed that flexible sigmoidoscopy reduced colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.
  • Key genomic-profiling studies, including new results from The Cancer Genome Atlas Project, were listed among the year's major cancer-related achievements.
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