Clinical cancer advances 2006: major research advances in cancer treatment, prevention, and screening--a report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
A MESSAGE FROM ASCO's PRESIDENT For the second consecutive year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is publishing Clinical Cancer Advances: Major Research Advances in Cancer Treatment, Prevention, and Screening, an annual review of the most significant cancer research presented or published over the past year. ASCO developed this report to demonstrate the enormous progress being made on the front lines of cancer research today. The report is intended to give all those with an interest in cancer care-the general public, cancer patients and physicians, policymakers, oncologists, and other medical professionals-an accessible summary of the year's most important cancer research advances. These pages report on new targeted therapies that are improving survival and response rates in hard-to-treat cancers such as kidney cancer, HER-2-positive breast cancer, head and neck cancer, and chronic myelogenous leukemia; the FDA's approval of the world's first preventive vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), which has the potential to dramatically reduce the global burden of cervical cancer; and advances in the fast-growing field of personalized medicine, including a new lung cancer test that could help physicians better target treatments and predict prognosis. These advances are only part of the landscape. Survival rates are on the rise, the number of cancer deaths in the United States began declining for the first time since 1930, and new research is showing that the rates of certain common cancers, such as those of the breast and colon, have stabilized, and may have even begun to decline. However, cancer research still faces a number of major obstacles. At a time of extraordinary scientific potential, declining federal funding of cancer research threatens to stall or even reverse recent progress. Such funding cuts have already led to fewer clinical trials, fewer talented young physicians entering the field, and a growing bottleneck of basic science discoveries waiting to be "translated" into useful therapies and diagnostics. In addition to highlighting the major research advances over the past year, this report also identifies key barriers to accelerating the pace of cancer research and outlines ASCO's recommendations for overcoming them. Despite these and other challenges, there is much good news on the front lines of cancer research. This report demonstrates the essential role of clinical cancer research in finding new and better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent a group of diseases that strike half of men and one-third of women in the United States.