11 Cancer Breakthroughs of 2011

  • A study of postmenopausal women at high risk for Invasive breast cancer showed that the drug exemestane significantly reduces risk.
  • Screening using low-dose CT scans cut the lung cancer death rate of high-risk patients by 20 percent
  • Bevacizumab plus chemo delays the progression of recurrent ovarian, peritoneal and fallopian tube cancers – and extends survival for those with newly diagnosed ovarian cancers.
  • Vemurafenib, which targets the BRAF mutation, improves survival in advanced melanoma – and is now FDA approved.
  • The drug Ipilimumab, when given with chemotherapy, improves overall survival of metastatic melanoma. Ipilimumab activates the immune system’s T cells to seek and destroy melanoma cells.
  • A new combination of chemotherapy drugs improves survival rates for kids with high-risk metastatic neuroblastoma.
  • Three years of postsurgery therapy with the drug Gleevec improves recurrence-free survival rates for patients with high-risk gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Now a breakthrough drug for treating rare stomach cancers, Gleevec first gained attention as the “magic bullet” that turned chronic myeloid leukemia from a fatal disease to a chronic condition with five-year survival rates of 90+ percent.
  • Treating kids with acute lymphoblastic leukemia with large, consistent doses of the chemo drug methotrexate improves relapse-free survival rates.
  • Adding radiation to regional lymph nodes reduces recurrence of early breast cancers in patients with one to three positive lymph nodes.
  • The FDA approved the new drug crizotinib to treat advanced non-small-cell lung cancer with ALK gene alteration.
  • The FDA approved abiraterone acetate with prednisone to treat advanced hormone refractory prostate cancer.

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