ASCO 50th Anniversary Poll Names the Top 5 Advances From the Past 50 Years


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Peter P. Yu, MD, FASCO

ASCO’s proposed budget increases for NIH and NCI will help ensure that the nation’s clinical cancer research infrastructure is protected, help attract the nation’s brightest young minds to a career in medicine, and offer future patients access to more and better cures.

—Peter P. Yu, MD, FASCO

ASCO has announced the “Top 5 Advances in 50 Years of Modern Oncology,” based on results of worldwide voting on CancerProgress.Net—ASCO’s interactive website documenting the history of progress against cancer. The “Top 5 in 50” results identify pivotal discoveries in chemotherapy, prevention, molecularly targeted therapy, and supportive care that have stood the test of time, and upon which further discoveries have since been based.

‘Progress Builds on Progress’

Importantly, federal research funding played a role in many of these advances, which were announced a day ahead of the 2nd Annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day on September 18, in Washington, DC. The goal of this event was to call attention to the real and meaningful progress that has been made because of the federal investment in medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Patients and advocates also joined in a call to Congress for greater funding for the NIH, which actually lost almost a quarter of its purchasing power in the last decade, adjusting for inflation.

“Progress builds on progress. Over the past 5 decades, NIH-funded research has transformed the outlook for people with cancer. These Top 5 in 50 highlight transformational discoveries that represent a shining sliver of what we have learned from a sustained investment in federally funded research,” said ASCO President Peter P. Yu, MD, FASCO. “However, without greater federal investment going forward, the pace of progress against cancer and other diseases will be far slower. We’re already seeing more high-quality research grants being turned down and a projected 40% cut to patient enrollment in NIH-funded cancer clinical trials, just since 2009.”

Top 5 Advances in 50 Years of Modern Oncology

The “Top 5 in 50” vote was conducted between December 2013 and July 2014, as part of ASCO’s 50th anniversary celebration. The ballot consisted of 32 clinical research advances that occurred since ASCO’s founding in 1964 and are included in the Major Milestones Timeline of CancerProgress.Net. 

“All of these advances mark major turning points for cancer care and have improved and saved the lives of countless Americans,” said Dr. Yu. “Federally funded research answers questions that are critically important to patients, questions that would otherwise go unanswered—like comparing the effectiveness of two regimens, exploring new uses for generic drugs, finding new ways to improve patients’ quality of life, and testing truly novel approaches like many of those highlighted in the Top 5 in 50 announced today.”

With more than 2,000 votes cast by physicians, patients, and the public, following are the “Top 5 Advances in Modern Oncology.” (See sidebar on page 202.) Each of these will be explored more fully in future issues of The ASCO Post.

Chemotherapy Cures Advanced Hodgkin Lymhoma

HPV Vaccine Approved to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Targeted Drug Transforms Treatment of Chronic Myelgenous Leukemia

Chemotherapy Cures Men With Testicular Cancer

Powerful Anti-nausea Drugs Dramatically Improve Patient’s Quality of Life

Clinical Cancer Advances Report

Every year, ASCO tracks important advances in clinical cancer research with its Clinical Cancer Advances report, drawing from research published in scientific journals and presented at scientific meetings.

Need for Federal Research Funding Remains Critical

During the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, ASCO renewed its call for increased 2015 budgets for the NIH and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). ASCO is asking for a $5.26 billion budget for the NCI and at least a $32 billion budget for the NIH for the 2015 fiscal year—a request that will allow NIH to protect current projects and begin a plan for growth in future years.

“ASCO’s proposed budget increases for NIH and NCI will help ensure that the nation’s clinical cancer research infrastructure is protected, help attract the nation’s brightest young minds to a career in medicine, and offer future patients access to more and better cures,” said Dr. Yu.

ASCO is co-sponsoring the Rally for Medical Research, which includes meetings with Congressional leaders. Hundreds of medical research and advocacy groups and patients are expected to attend the event spearheaded by the American Association for Cancer Research, joining in a call to Congress for increased research funding for the NIH.  ■


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Top 5 Advances in Modern Oncology

1. Chemotherapy Cures Advanced Hodgkin Lymphoma

In the first chemotherapy breakthrough for advanced cancer in adults, a four-drug combination chemotherapy regimen, called MOPP (mustargen/­oncovin/procarbazine/prednisone), induced long-term remissions in over half of patients with aggressive...


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