At the start of the new year oncologists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) have taken a look back at 2012 to identify the year’s top 10 advancements in the fight against cancer. Every year there are incredible breakthroughs in cancer screening, prevention, research treatments and therapies. While there is still a long way to go to beat cancer, CTCA® is hopeful that these advancements will help to save the lives of the millions of people who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Jeffrey Chen, MD, radiation oncologist; Robert Wascher, MD, surgical oncologist; and Madappa Kundranda, MD, PhD medical oncologist at CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center worked together to identify and rank the following top 10 cancer breakthroughs for 2012.
1. Personalized Cancer Medicine: An increasing number of groundbreaking “targeted” cancer therapies are available. This new generation of cancer therapies are able to block abnormal genes or proteins that cause cancer cells to grow and spread.
2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the first breast ultrasound specifically designed for dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue can increase breast cancer risk, and can make it difficult to identify small breast cancers once they occur (40% of women who undergo screening mammograms have dense breasts).
3. Computerized cognitive training that may be able to improve “chemo brain,” a term that refers to the cognitive problems women suffer during and after cancer treatment. This form of therapy may help to improve memory and mental health. (Clinical study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment)
4. Evidence that higher levels of vitamin D may improve survival in patients with breast cancer. (2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium)
5. Preoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy double overall survival for esophageal and gastroesophageal junction cancers. Researchers report that preoperative treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy resulted in significant benefits: 29% of patients experienced complete remission of their cancer; median overall survival was longer (49 months versus 24 months), and the death rate was 35% lower in patients who underwent preoperative treatment compared with those who had surgery alone. (Clinical study published in The New England Journal of Medicine)
6. The identification of four distinct genetic types of breast cancer, which could accelerate the search for better treatments for each of these subtypes of breast cancer, instead of the “one size fits all” approach to cancer treatment. (Research from the Cancer Genome Atlas, part of the National Institutes of Health)
7. A new vaccine has been tested for advanced kidney cancer, and early results suggest that this vaccine may increase survival. (Developed by Dr. Howard Kaufman, formerly at Columbia University and now at Mount Sinai University)
8. Two new cancer drugs, ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap) and regorafenib (Stivarga), were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. These new “targeted” cancer drugs offer patients with advanced colorectal cancer important new treatment options.
9. A new “smart bra” has shown to be more than 90% accurate at detecting breast abnormalities using sensors to detect small changes in breast tissue temperature over time, based upon preliminary research data. In three clinical trials involving a total of 650 women, the bra was able to detect the presence of breast tumors as many as six years before conventional breast imaging would have. (Developed and being tested by Nevada company, First Warning Systems. At this time, this device is not yet approved for sale in the United States, and additional research will need to be carried out before the findings of preliminary studies can be validated.)
10. The Baylor College of Medicine, Australian Pancreatic Center Genome Initiative, and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer Genome Study recently carried out detailed genetic studies on 99 pancreatic cancer tumors, and identified almost 2,000 specific gene mutations associated with this deadly form of cancer. This detailed genetic information may lead to important new discoveries related to both the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals focusing on complex and advanced stage cancer. CTCA offers a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment and serves patients from all 50 states at facilities located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com a href="http://www.cancercenter.com/>">http://www.cancercenter.com/> .