ASCO Names Refinement of Surgical Treatment as Advance of the Year in Cancer Care


The refinement of surgical treatment of cancer was named the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s advance of the year, according to its Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer.

The refinement of surgical treatment of cancer was named the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s advance of the year, according to its Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer.

“Years of progress in developing new systemic cancer therapies has not only improved patient survival and quality of life but is now transforming surgical approaches to cancer treatment,” according to the report. “The emergence of novel systemic therapies combined in new and better ways is significantly changing the role of cancer surgery. ASCO’s selection of Refinement of Surgical Treatment of Cancer as the 2020 Advance of the Year recognizes recent strides seen in the effectiveness of these treatments in reducing the amount of surgery, and even the need for it, while increasing the number of patients who can undergo surgery when needed.”

ASCO president Dr. Howard A. “Skip” Burris III also lauded the advance, noting that its progress will drive more progress in cancer care.

“Surgery has played a fundamental role in cancer treatment. It was the only treatment available for many cancers until the advent of radiation and chemotherapy,” he said in the report. “The explosion in systemic therapies since then has resulted in significant changes to when and how surgery is performed to treat cancer.”

The report is intended to highlight the most important clinical research advances of the past year and identify priority areas where ASCO believes research efforts should be focused on moving forward.

“In this report, we explore how treatment successes have led to less invasive approaches for advanced melanoma, reduced the need for surgery in renal cell carcinoma, and increased the number of patients with pancreatic cancer who can undergo surgery,” Burris said.

The report also attributed the following as research successes over the year:

  • neoadjuvant combinations of immunotherapies for more successful less-invasive surgery for patients with advanced melanoma
  • targeted therapy as an alternative to immediate surgery in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma
  • upfront treatments making surgery possible for more patients with pancreatic cancer
  • vaccines against human papillomavirus reducing cervical cancer risk in real-world settings
  • biomarker-driven treatment approaches open personalized care for metastatic pancreatic cancer
  • combinations of different types of therapies suggest that survival can be extended without increasing toxicity
  • the growing number of targeted therapies for more patients with difficult-to-treat cancers

Burris also told the story of a 65th birthday party he attended, before his tenure as president, of one of his patients who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer 10 years prior. Despite not wanting to move forward with treatment at the time, she was encouraged to join a clinical trial evaluating a drug that is now widely used to treat breast cancer.

“Happily, here we were, celebrating with her now-married daughters, their husbands, and three beautiful grandchildren, ages 2, 4, and 8. Such is the importance of clinical trials and promising new therapies,” Burris said.

“Clinical research is about saving and improving the lives of individuals with cancer,” he added. “It’s a continuing story that builds on the efforts of untold numbers of researchers, clinicians, caregivers, and patients. ASCO’s Clinical Cancer Advances report tells part of this story, sharing the most transformative research of the past year.”

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