sPeCiAl feAtuRe on
five yeARs of PRogRess
in This secTion You WiLL Learn:
• oncoLogY is Leading Precision medicine
efforTs and Transforming Lives.
• genomics is The founda Tion on Which
Precision medicine in oncoLog Y is buiLT.
• in The Pas T five Years, moLecuLarLY
Targe Ted TheraPeu Tics and
immunoTheraPeu Tics have become ParT
of rou Tine care for Pa Tien Ts Wi Th
severaL TYPes of cancer.
• big da Ta sho W Promise for increasing
The number of Precision TheraPeuTics
in our TooLKi T.
• genomicaLLY informed cLinicaL TriaL
designs are essenTiaL for moving
Precision medicine for Ward as quicKLY
To celebrate the fifth edition of the AACR Cancer Progress
Report, included here is a special feature in which we
highlight advances that have been made against cancer in
the five years of publishing the report.
The year 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing
of the National Cancer Act of 1971, which focused the
nation’s efforts and attention on the fight against cancer.
Much changed between 1971 and 2011, and the AACR
commemorated the amazing advances in cancer research
made during that time with the publication of its inaugural
AACR Cancer Progress Report.
In the four decades after 1971, we went from the concept
that cancer is a single disease caused by viruses to the
understanding that cancer is a vast collection of diseases, some
of which are indeed caused by chronic infection with certain
viruses, united by overgrowth of cells (see Prevent Infection
With Cancer-causing Pathogens, p. 46). More important,
however, was the discovery that cancer arises from a myriad
of genetic changes within cells that accumulate with time (see
Developing Cancer, p. 18).
That discovery, coupled with advances in biology, chemistry,
physics, and technology, set the stage for the new era of
precision medicine. In fact, by Jan. 1, 2011, 20 therapeutics
targeting specific molecules involved in the development
and progression of cancer had been discovered and
approved for patient benefit. Included in this list are not
only therapeutics that target cancer-specific molecules, but
also those that target the blood vessel growth that supports
tumor development and some immunotherapeutics.
As described in this Special Feature on Five Years of Progress
Against Cancer, much has changed since Jan. 1, 2011.
Powered by fundamental research, our understanding of
the inner workings of cancer has continued to explode.
As we have learned more about the biology of cancer and
both the normal and pathologic responses of the patient to
cancer, we have been able to develop increasingly precise
therapies that reduce the adverse effects of treatment while
simultaneously enhancing their ability to eliminate certain
forms of cancer, including some drug-resistant cancers.
Moreover, the pace at which this is being accomplished
continues to accelerate year after year, providing a glimpse
of an even brighter future. For example, from Jan. 1, 2011,
through July 31, 2015, 32 additional therapeutics targeting
molecules involved in the development and progression of
cancer were discovered and approved for patient benefit,
which is more than in the entire four prior decades.
Treating Cancer More Precisely
In 2001, the FDA approved imatinib (Gleevec) for the
treatment of Philadelphia chromosome–positive chronic
myelogenous leukemia (CML).
This was a watershed moment.