In this section you will learn:
• Mobilizing a patient’s own immune system to treat cancer is yielding
remarkable and durable responses, making immunotherapy
an exciting area of cancer research.
• From Sept. 1, 2012, to July 31, 2013, the FDA approved 11 new drugs for
treating cancers, eight of which are molecularly targeted drugs.
• During the same period of time, the FDA approved new uses for three
previously approved anticancer drugs, one of which is a nanodrug.
• In addition, three new technologies that improve cancer detection or guide
treatment were approved by the FDA.
• Cancer genomics research has led to clinical sequencing of tumors,
which is beginning to guide cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Making Research Count for Patients:
A Continual Pursuit
Decades of cancer research have fueled extraordinary medical,
scientific, and technical advances that gave us the tools that
we now use for the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and
treatment of cancer. Together, these advances have helped
save millions of lives in the United States and worldwide. As
highlighted in the Special Feature on Immunotherapy, p
38, one area that is beginning to revolutionize the treatment
of certain cancers, and that holds incredible promise for the
future, is immunotherapy.
It takes many years of dedicated work by thousands of
individuals across the research community to bring a new drug,
device, or technique from a concept to FDA approval. From
Sept. 1, 2012, to July 31, 2013, this Holy Grail was achieved
for 11 new drugs, three existing drugs with new uses, and
three new imaging technologies, thereby accelerating the pace
of progress in both cancer treatment and detection (see Table
1, p. 4). Two of these drugs were approved with companion
diagnostics to ensure that only patients who are likely to
benefit from the drugs, receive them.
It is important to note that most patients, like Mary Jackson
Scroggins and Congressman Fitzpatrick, are not treated
with drugs alone but usually with some combination of surgery,
radiotherapy, and chemotherapy (see Appendix Tables 1 and
2, p. 81). One new radiotherapeutic, radium-223 dichloride
(Xofigo), was approved by the FDA for the treatment of prostate
cancer that has spread to the bones in May 2013. This low-energy radioactive drug is the first of its kind to be approved
by the FDA. It specifically delivers radiation to tumors in the
bones, limiting damage to the surrounding tissues (104) (see
Table 1, p. 4).
The following discussion focuses on recent FDA approvals as
well as advances against cancer that are showing near-term