ASCO hail cancer immunotherapy as clinical cancer advance of the year

In their just-released Clinical Cancer Advances 2016: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has today hailed cancer immunotherapy as the top cancer advance of the year.

“No recent cancer advance has been more transformative than immunotherapy. These new therapies are not only transforming patient lives, they are also opening intriguing avenues for further research,” commented ASCO President Julie M Vose. “Advances like these require bold ideas, dedication and investment in research. If we are to conquer cancer, we need to invest more as a nation to support a strong biomedical research enterprise.”

The report was published today – World Cancer Day – in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and also recognizes 60 other important research advances from across the cancer care continuum from the last year.

The report describes how PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors have been shown to extend survival in melanoma for months or even years in patients with advanced melanoma. Further research that emerged over the last year has indicated that these therapies could have similar effects in other advanced malignancies.

Last year the US FDA approved the use of PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapies for the treatment of advanced lung and kidney cancer – two forms of the disease that are resistant to existing therapies. Early clinical evidence has also determined that these inhibitors may slow the growth of bladder, liver, head and neck, and other cancers

Outside of checkpoint inhibition, 2015 also brought some evidence of potential for other immunotherapeutic strategies including T-cell therapies for blood cancers and therapeutic cancer vaccines for glioblastoma.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing that immunotherapy is able to control cancer growth longer, and may be easier for some patients to tolerate than traditional chemotherapies and targeted drugs,” explained Clinical Cancer Advances 2016 Co-Executive Editor Don S Dizon, MD, FACP. “The next challenge is to expand the benefits of immunotherapy to more people with cancer.”

With discussion of key policy issues and developments that impact the future of cancer research in the US and the pace of progress, the report also identifies emerging cancer care trends, such as new precision medicine strategies to tackle treatment-resistant cancers and increasing research on improving patient quality of life.

ASCO will be carrying out a Congressional Briefing today to further discuss the findings of the report – a full version of which can be found at