Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer

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Clinical research is continuously delivering new treatments that lengthen and improve the lives of patients with cancer. The abundance of advances reported in the past year illustrates our steady progress in cancer treatment and care. Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer reviews the year’s most important clinical cancer research.

About the CCA Report

Clinical Cancer Advances (CCA), now in its eighth year, is unique in that it describes the most significant advances of the year, offering the public a window into the achievements, trends, and challenges in oncology. The CCA is intended for anyone with an interest in cancer care, including, patients, caregivers, concerned family and friends of cancer patients, oncologists and other medical professionals, policymakers, and cancer advocacy organizations.

This year’s report was compiled and edited under the guidance of 21 renowned experts in specific fields of cancer research. The editors reviewed research published in peer-reviewed scientific or medical journals and presented at major scientific meetings over a 1-year period (October 2011–September 2012). Research reviewed in the CCA covers the full range of clinical research disciplines: epidemiology, prevention, screening, early detection, treatment, patient and survivor care, biomarkers, tumor biology, and cancer disparities. The report this year includes two new sections highlighting research progress in the areas of tumor biology and quality cancer care.

Major Advances in Cancer Care

The 2012 CCA features a total of 87 studies, 17 of which are considered major, meaning they represent research results that are practice-changing, published in a peer-reviewed journal, and/or are reports on treatments that received FDA approval in the past year. In the last 12 months, the FDA approved 7 new anticancer drugs and expanded indications for 5 existing agents based on encouraging results from large clinical trials.

Significant strides were made this year in precision medicine and overcoming treatment resistance. Many of these advances involve therapeutic strategies that stem from our growing understanding of the complex biology of cancer. Major advances from this year include:

  • New targeted drugs for patients with advanced colorectal and prostate cancers, skin cancer, and treatment-resistant forms of thyroid cancer and soft tissue sarcoma
  • New combination therapies for patients with breast cancer, chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer, esophageal and gastroesophageal junction cancers, and advanced lung cancer
  • A maintenance therapy to delay multiple myeloma relapse
  • A potential new screening modality for colorectal cancer
  • Promising treatments for chemotherapy-induced nausea and pain
  • Factors to consider before administering chemotherapy to elderly patients

Cancer Policy Priorities

The “The Policy Environment: ASCO in Action in 2012” section of the report outlines important policy developments that have affected oncology over the past year and highlights related ASCO initiatives aimed at creating an environment where faster progress can be made against cancer. Many of the significant developments highlighted in this report were achieved through federally funded clinical research, which is currently under threat due to the challenging economic climate and federal budget concerns. ASCO is using all means and channels possible to implore Congress to avert the disastrous impact of sequestration on patients with cancer. Additional topics covered in this section include ASCO’s initiative to build a rapid learning system for oncology, ASCO’s recommendations to tackle drug shortages, and recommendations for improving quality and value in cancer care, such as the Choosing Wisely® campaign and ASCO’s Top Five list).

The Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO’s Annual Progress Against Cancer was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology ( on December 3. The full report and additional resources are available at ■

© 2012. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All Rights Reserved.