We could not talk about 2016 without mentioning one of the most promising areas of cancer research: immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy treatments are designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. While we have some work to do to help doctors understand why these promising treatments don’t yet work for every patient, we saw some really remarkable progress in 2016.
For example, research showed that immunotherapy can slow the growth of melanoma and for some patients with later stage melanoma, even help increase their survival chances. It’s an important advance considering the rates of melanoma are increasing – especially among women under 40.
We also saw some early research that indicates immunotherapy could be a promising treatment for some women with ovarian cancer who do not respond to traditional chemotherapy.
Right now, we currently have immunotherapies available for certain types of lung cancers, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, Hodgkin Lymphoma, and head and neck cancers.
It’s exciting, and an area we’ll be watching closely.
What new therapies or drugs are available that our readers should know about?
Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved palbociclib to slow the progression of hormone receptor positive metastatic breast cancer when used with standard hormone therapy.
And there is considerable excitement around the recent FDA approvals of drugs called PARP inhibitors, olaparib and rucaparib, for treating ovarian cancer. These treatments are effective in cancers with mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes and oncologists can test a patient’s tumor to determine if these new therapies will work for a patient.
What continues to be the biggest challenges to those working in the field of cancer?
While researchers are making progress against cancer – and cancer death rates continue to decline – one of the major challenges is federal funding for biomedical research. Federally funded research has yielded some of the most remarkable advances in cancer care over the last 40 years.
Last year, the government gave our nation’s cancer researchers a boost in funding for the first time in 10 years. That was a good first step, but we will need robust funding going forward in order to regain momentum after years of inadequate support. ASCO urges lawmakers to continue to build on investments with predictable and sustainable future funding increases to meet the promise of today’s research.
Source: Exciting Research in Cancer Care