War on Cancer is still ongoing, however, we have seen some progress which is significant, at least for those who have benefited from all these developments. A nice article (published in Science magazine) summarizes important feats that cancer researchers achieved in the last 40 years:
(Courtesy: Science 25 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6024 pp. 1540-1544 )
President Richard Nixon signs the National Cancer Act promoting the National Cancer Institute.
NCI launches Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program to collect U.S. cancer data.
Clinical testing begins of interferon-α, the first biological cancer therapy. FDA approves tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer recurrence.
Researchers discover p53, the mutated gene most often seen in tumors.
Robert Gallo and others isolate human T-cell lymphotropic virus-1, a cause of cancer.
First cancer-prevention vaccine introduced— against human hepatitis B virus.
Researchers create severe combined immunodeficient mice, a model for cancer research.
Randomized trial shows that lumpectomy plus radiation are as effective as mastectomy for breast cancer.
Biostatistician John Bailar writes in The New England Journal of Medicine, “We are losing the war against cancer.”
Nobel Prize for discovering the first proto-oncogene (Src) awarded to Harold Varmus and Michael Bishop.
National Breast Cancer Coalition launched, in the AIDS activist style.
FDA approves synthetic yew bark derivative, Taxol (paclitaxel), for breast cancer.
Congress orders study of environmental causes of breast cancer on Long Island; the 10-year study will yield no significant findings. Science names p53 “Molecule of the Year.”
BRCA1 gene, identified as a risk for breast and ovarian cancer, is cloned; BRCA2 cloned the next year.
American Cancer Society and others report the “first sustained decline” in overall U.S. cancer deaths, a drop of 2.6% from 1991 to 1995.
FDA approves Herceptin (trastuzumab), a monoclonal antibody, for metastatic breast tumors that overproduce HER2.
Nobelist James Watson tells The New York Times that blocking the growth of tumor blood vessels (antiangiogenesis) can “cure cancer in 2 years.”
FDA approves Gleevec (imatinib), a targeted drug, for chronic myelogenous leukemia; Time calls it a “magic bullet.”
NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach vows to “eliminate suffering and death from cancer by 2015.”
FDA approves Avastin, an antiangiogenesis drug, for colon cancer, with chemotherapy. Childhood cancer landmark: nearly 80% of those treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia are free of cancer “events” for 5 years or more.
NIH launches The Cancer Genome Atlas to catalog genomic changes in tumors.
FDA approves Gardasil vaccine to prevent HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer.
Breast cancer incidence declines, attributed to better screening and reduced use of hormone replacement therapy.
James Watson writes that it's time to turn from cancer genetics to “understanding the chemical reactions within cancer cells,” or cell metabolism.
National Lung Cancer Screening Trial finds that helical CT screening can reduce cancer deaths among smokers. FDA approves Provenge, an immune treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. It extends life about 4 months and costs $93,000.
PLX4032, a targeted cancer drug, extends life in patients with advanced melanoma.