Targeted Drugs, Lung CT Screening Top Cancer Advances in 2011

Report from leading oncologists' group finds strides were made against tough-to-treat tumors

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Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, agreed that "we are moving into a new era of [cancer] drug development."

He explained that a better understanding the genetics of a particular cancer now makes it possible to develop medicines that target a key part of the tumor cell, making therapies more specific and effective.

"For example, in melanoma we are still using the same drug today that I used back in 1972," Lichtenfeld said. However, the advent of new drugs is starting to change that, he added.

"The extension of life may be modest, [but] we need to appreciate that they are real," Lichtenfeld said. "Ten years ago we started talking about making cancer a 'chronic disease' and we are starting to see that happen."

More information

There's much more on cancer at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

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