Clinical Cancer Advances 2013: ASCO's Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer

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The Society has recently published Clinical Cancer Advances 2013: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer, a comprehensive review of progress in clinical cancer research that has come to fruition in 2013. The report highlights advances across the entire continuum of cancer care, from prevention to treatment and survivorship, and covers a broad range of cancer subspecialties. It also documents FDA approvals of new anticancer agents, clinical practice guidelines, and policy priorities that are likely to influence cancer care delivery in the near term.

About the CCA

Now in its ninth year, the Clinical Cancer Advances (CCA) report offers the public a window into the achievements, trends, and challenges in oncology. It serves as an educational resource for oncology residents and fellows, and seasoned oncologists and primary care physicians may look to the document to catch up on the most promising developments in cancer research and care.

CCA 2013 was developed under the direction of an editorial board chosen by ASCO, comprised of experts in their respective fields of oncology. The editors reviewed research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at major scientific meetings over a 1-year period (October 2012 to September 2013), which covers prevention, screening, treatment, patient and survivor care, biomarkers, tumor biology, and cancer disparities.

Major Advances in Cancer Care

Among the 76 studies featured in CCA 2013, many capitalize on our growing understanding of tumor biology and genomics. Marked progress has also been achieved in treatment of rare and therapy-resistant cancers through new precision medicine and immunotherapy approaches. The most significant advances in those fields include:

  • Identification of new prognostic markers and potential therapeutic targets in brain, kidney, and head and neck cancers, and new molecular subtypes of endometrial cancer and glioblastoma.
  • Molecularly targeted drugs that stall disease progression in patients with treatment-resistant forms of cervical and thyroid cancer.
  • New strategies to enhance the ability of patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer.

In addition, two landmark studies this year showcase cancer screening paradigms poised to reduce socioeconomic and racial disparities in cancer survival:

  • Low-cost cervical cancer screening involving simple vinegar delivered by primary health workers reduced cervical cancer deaths by one-third in India; this approach could save more than 70,000 women’s lives per year worldwide.
  • A statewide colorectal cancer screening and treatment program that has nearly eliminated disparities in colorectal cancer outcomes for African Americans in Delaware.

Cancer Policy Priorities

In the United States, cancer research is critically dependent on federal funding, which underpins the National Clinical Trial Network (NCTN) and supports research that the private sector typically doesn’t pursue. But the future of progress against cancer is being threatened by a pattern of flat federal funding over the last decade and the 2013 sequester, which triggered across-the-board cuts to ongoing research. In the CCA this year, ASCO is calling on Congress to provide a fiscal year 2014 appropriation of $5.2 billion to the National Cancer Institute, increase funding for the NCTN, avoid future sequestration budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health, and issue clear guidance on the clinical trial provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Clinical Cancer Advances 2013 is funded in part through the Conquer Cancer Foundation Mission Endowment. Clinical Cancer Advances 2013: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology ( on December 10, and is also available with additional resources at ■

© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.