Report Lauds 2008's Important Cancer Discoveries

American Society of Clinical Oncology points to new treatments, calls for more funding

TUESDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The past year saw many advances in cancer research in areas including hard-to-treat cancers, new drug approvals, personalized medicine and reducing recurrence, according to a report published online Dec. 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The authors, a group of 21 oncologists writing for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, highlight cetuximab for improving survival in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer and gemcitabine for improving survival after surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer. The authors also point to the newly approved bevacizumab for non-HER2 breast cancer and bendamustine for chronic lymphocytic leukemia as having a significant impact on patient care.

Other advances noted in the report include research finding that pegylated interferon can help prevent recurrent melanoma and that the benefit of cetuximab in colorectal cancer is limited to patients with the normal form of the KRAS gene. In the report, the authors make two major recommendations to speed up research against the disease: increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health would improve progress on hard-to-treat cancers; and improving insurance coverage for clinical trials would increase patient participation in trials.

"This year's report illustrates that investment in cancer research pays off. But unless we reverse the effects of flat federal funding, the great potential we currently have to advance cancer treatment will go to waste," said Eric Winer, M.D., the report's executive editor, in a prepared statement. "We hope the new Administration will renew the nation's investment in cancer research so researchers can take full advantage of the scientific discoveries waiting to be translated into treatments for patients."

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