Clinical cancer advances 2007: 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 third 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 publishes this report to demonstrate the important progress being made on the front lines of clinical cancer research today. The report is intended to give all those with an interest in cancer care-the general public, cancer patients and organizations, policymakers, oncologists, and other medical professionals-an accessible summary of the year's most important cancer research advances. These pages report on the use of magnetic resonance imaging for breast cancer screening, the association between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer incidence, the link between human papillomavirus and head and neck cancers, and the use of radiation therapy to prevent lung cancer from spreading. They also report on effective new targeted therapies for cancers that have been historically difficult to treat, such as liver cancer and kidney cancer, among many others. A total of 24 advances are featured in this year's report. These advances and many more over the past several years show that the nation's long-term investment in cancer research is paying off. But there are disturbing signs that progress could slow. We are now in the midst of the longest sustained period of flat government funding for cancer research in history. The budgets for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have been unchanged for four years. When adjusted for inflation, cancer research funding has actually declined 12% since 2004. These budget constraints limit the NCI's ability to fund promising cancer research. In the past several years the number of grants that the NCI has been able to fund has significantly decreased; this year, in response to just the threat of a 10% budget cut, the nation's Clinical Trials Cooperative Groups reduced the number of patients participating in clinical trials by almost 2,000 and senior researchers report that many of the brightest young minds no longer see the promise of a career in science, choosing other careers instead. It's time to renew the nation's commitment to cancer research. Without additional support, the opportunity to build on the extraordinary progress to date will be lost or delayed. This report demonstrates the essential role that clinical cancer research plays in finding new and better ways to care for the more than 1.4 million people expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year. I want to thank the Editorial Board members, the Specialty Editors, and the ASCO Cancer Communications Committee for their dedicated work to develop this report. I hope you find it useful. Sincerely, Nancy E. Davidson, MD President American Society of Clinical Oncology.