Present the major advances made in oncology in the last few decades.

1) Present the major advances made in oncology in the last few decades.


War on cancer began with National Cancer Act of 1971, which is a United States Federal law. This Act was a type of national effort against cancer. Since then targeted drug therapies have gained motion and are known to be more effective in cancer treatment.

Targetted drug therapies include the development of drugs that target specific molecules that control cell growth and blood supply that feeds tumors. Two examples are Herceptin Gleevac.

  • There has been development of a drug named Herceptin. This drug targets breast cancer oncogene HER2. The development of this drug has improved survival rate in women who are suffering from breast cancer significantly. It was noticed that 25% of women with breast cancer respond to this drug even when other chemotherapeutic drugs fail.
  • Lumpectomy/tylectomy (surgical removal of a portion of lump of breast) has replaced masectomy (full breast removal) in case of breast cancer. This treatment has a physical and emotional advantage.
  • Another drug named Gleevac has been developed. It targets the genetic mutation called bcr-abl. This genetic mutation allows cancer cells to grow and multiply in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia or with GIST (a type of stomach cancer). Previous therapy was given with interferon which extended the life of patient by one year in only 20-30% patients.

Many types of cancer, like pancreatic cancer still remain uncurable, and overall cancer mortality rate has decreased only by 5% using these techniques.

Age-specific analysis of cancer mortality rates has had progress in reducing cancer mortality in the United States since 1955. The youngest age groups have experienced steepest decline in mortality rate at 25.9 percent per decade, and the oldest age groups experiencing a 6.8 percent per decade decline.