Timeline of cancer treatment development

Last updated

This is a historical timeline of the development and progress of cancer treatments, which includes time of discovery, progress, and approval of the treatments.


Ancient Era

Cancer was traditionally treated with surgery, heat, or herbal (chemical) therapies.

Modern Era




See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cancer immunotherapy</span> Artificial stimulation of the immune system to treat cancer

Cancer immunotherapy is the stimulation of the immune system to treat cancer, improving on the immune system's natural ability to fight the disease. It is an application of the fundamental research of cancer immunology and a growing subspecialty of oncology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of cancer chemotherapy</span>

The era of cancer chemotherapy began in the 1940s with the first use of nitrogen mustards and folic acid antagonist drugs. The targeted therapy revolution has arrived, but many of the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Targeted therapy</span> Type of therapy

Targeted therapy or molecularly targeted therapy is one of the major modalities of medical treatment (pharmacotherapy) for cancer, others being hormonal therapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy. As a form of molecular medicine, targeted therapy blocks the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted molecules needed for carcinogenesis and tumor growth, rather than by simply interfering with all rapidly dividing cells. Because most agents for targeted therapy are biopharmaceuticals, the term biologic therapy is sometimes synonymous with targeted therapy when used in the context of cancer therapy. However, the modalities can be combined; antibody-drug conjugates combine biologic and cytotoxic mechanisms into one targeted therapy.

Adjuvant therapy, also known as adjunct therapy, adjuvant care, or augmentation therapy, is a therapy that is given in addition to the primary or initial therapy to maximize its effectiveness. The surgeries and complex treatment regimens used in cancer therapy have led the term to be used mainly to describe adjuvant cancer treatments. An example of such adjuvant therapy is the additional treatment usually given after surgery where all detectable disease has been removed, but where there remains a statistical risk of relapse due to the presence of undetected disease. If known disease is left behind following surgery, then further treatment is not technically adjuvant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cryoablation</span> Process using extreme cold to destroy tissue

Cryoablation is a process that uses extreme cold to destroy tissue. Cryoablation is performed using hollow needles (cryoprobes) through which cooled, thermally conductive, fluids are circulated. Cryoprobes are positioned adjacent to the target in such a way that the freezing process will destroy the diseased tissue. Once the probes are in place, the attached cryogenic freezing unit removes heat from ("cools") the tip of the probe and by extension from the surrounding tissues.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is any breast cancer that either lacks or shows low levels of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) overexpression and/or gene amplification. Triple-negative is sometimes used as a surrogate term for basal-like.

Antihormone therapy is a type of hormone therapy that suppresses selected hormones or their effects, in contrast with hormone replacement therapy, which encourages hormone activity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metastatic breast cancer</span> Type of cancer

Metastatic breast cancer, also referred to as metastases, advanced breast cancer, secondary tumors, secondaries or stage IV breast cancer, is a stage of breast cancer where the breast cancer cells have spread to distant sites beyond the axillary lymph nodes. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer; there is no stage after IV.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olaparib</span> Chemical compound (cancer therapy drug)

Olaparib, sold under the brand name Lynparza, is a medication for the maintenance treatment of BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer in adults. It is a PARP inhibitor, inhibiting poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP), an enzyme involved in DNA repair. It acts against cancers in people with hereditary BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, which include some ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers.

A CDK inhibitor is any chemical that inhibits the function of CDKs. They are used to treat cancers by preventing overproliferation of cancer cells. The US FDA approved the first drug of this type, palbociclib (Ibrance), a CDK4/6 inhibitor, in February 2015, for use in postmenopausal women with breast cancer that is estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative. Several compounds are in clinical trials.

Treatment of lung cancer refers to the use of medical therapies, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, percutaneous ablation, and palliative care, alone or in combination, in an attempt to cure or lessen the adverse impact of malignant neoplasms originating in lung tissue.

Neuvenge, Lapuleucel-T, is a therapeutic cancer vaccine (TCV) in development by Dendreon (DNDN). It uses the "immunotherapy platform approach" first successfully demonstrated on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved TCV Provenge. It was first tested on breast cancer patients with tumors expressing HER2/neu, and is now scheduled to be tested on bladder cancer patients.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nivolumab</span> Cancer drug

Nivolumab, sold under the brand name Opdivo, is a medication used to treat a number of types of cancer. This includes melanoma, lung cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma, renal cell carcinoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck cancer, urothelial carcinoma, colon cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, liver cancer, gastric cancer, and esophageal or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. It is used by slow injection into a vein.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pembrolizumab</span> Pharmaceutical drug used in cancer treatment

Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, is a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy that treats melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, cervical cancer, and certain types of breast cancer. It is given by slow injection into a vein.

Interventional oncology is a subspecialty field of interventional radiology that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and cancer-related problems using targeted minimally invasive procedures performed under image guidance. Interventional oncology has developed to a separate pillar of modern oncology and it employs X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help guide miniaturized instruments to allow targeted and precise treatment of solid tumours located in various organs of the human body, including but not limited to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and bones. Interventional oncology treatments are routinely carried out by interventional radiologists in appropriate settings and facilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atezolizumab</span> Monoclonal anti-PD-L1 antibody

Atezolizumab, sold under the brand name Tecentriq, is a monoclonal antibody medication used to treat urothelial carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), small cell lung cancer (SCLC), hepatocellular carcinoma and alveolar soft part sarcoma, but discontinued for use in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). It is a fully humanized, engineered monoclonal antibody of IgG1 isotype against the protein programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sacituzumab govitecan</span> Antibody-drug conjugate

Sacituzumab govitecan, sold under the brand name Trodelvy, is a Trop-2-directed antibody and topoisomerase inhibitor drug conjugate used for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and metastatic urothelial cancer.

Cryoimmunotherapy, also referred to as cryoimmunology, is an oncological treatment for various cancers that combines cryoablation of tumor with immunotherapy treatment. In-vivo cryoablation of a tumor, alone, can induce an immunostimulatory, systemic anti-tumor response, resulting in a cancer vaccine—the abscopal effect. Thus, cryoablation of tumors is a way of achieving autologous, in-vivo tumor lysate vaccine and treat metastatic disease. However, cryoablation alone may produce an insufficient immune response, depending on various factors, such as high freeze rate. Combining cryotherapy with immunotherapy enhances the immunostimulating response and has synergistic effects for cancer treatment.

Combinatorial ablation and immunotherapy is an oncological treatment that combines various tumor-ablation techniques with immunotherapy treatment. Combining ablation therapy of tumors with immunotherapy enhances the immunostimulating response and has synergistic effects for curative metastatic cancer treatment. Various ablative techniques are utilized including cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation, photodynamic ablation, stereotactic radiation therapy, alpha-emitting radiation therapy, hyperthermia therapy, HIFU. Thus, combinatorial ablation of tumors and immunotherapy is a way of achieving an autologous, in-vivo tumor lysate vaccine and treating metastatic disease.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trastuzumab deruxtecan</span> Medication

Trastuzumab deruxtecan, sold under the brand name Enhertu, is an antibody-drug conjugate consisting of the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) covalently linked to the topoisomerase I inhibitor deruxtecan. It is licensed for the treatment of breast cancer or gastric or gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma. Trastuzumab binds to and blocks signaling through epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu) on cancers that rely on it for growth. Additionally, once bound to HER2 receptors, the antibody is internalized by the cell, carrying the bound deruxtecan along with it, where it interferes with the cell's ability to make DNA structural changes and replicate its DNA during cell division, leading to DNA damage when the cell attempts to replicate itself, destroying the cell.


  1. Kucerova P, Cervinkova M (April 2016). "Spontaneous regression of tumour and the role of microbial infection--possibilities for cancer treatment". Anti-Cancer Drugs. 27 (4): 269–77. doi:10.1097/CAD.0000000000000337. PMC   4777220 . PMID   26813865.
  2. Gian F. Baronzio (2006). "Introduction". Hyperthermia In Cancer Treatment: A Primer. Medical Intelligence Unit. Berlin: Springer. ISBN   978-0-387-33440-0.[ page needed ]
  3. "The History of Cancer".
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "History of cancer treatment". 2015-06-04.
  5. History of Cryosurgery. 2008.
  6. Krieg, AM; Yi, AK; Matson, S; Waldschmidt, TJ; Bishop, GA; Teasdale, R; Koretzky, GA; Klinman, DM (1995). "CpG motifs in bacterial DNA trigger direct B-cell activation". Nature. 374 (6522): 546–9. Bibcode:1995Natur.374..546K. doi:10.1038/374546a0. PMID   7700380. S2CID   4261304.
  7. McCarthy, EF (2006). "The Toxins of William B. Coley and the Treatment of Cancer". Iowa Orthop J. 26: 154–8. PMC   1888599 . PMID   16789469.
  8. Sgantzos, M.; Tsoucalas, G.; Laios, K.; Androutsos, G. (2014). "The physician who first applied radiotherapy, Victor Despeignes, on 1896". Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 17 (1): 45–6. PMID   24563880.
  9. 1 2 McCarthy, EF (2006). "The Toxins of William B. Coley and the Treatment of Bone and Soft-Tissue Sarcomas". Iowa Orthop J. 26: 154–8. PMC   1888599 . PMID   16789469.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Meyer, Lacey (3 October 2008). "Timeline: Milestones in Cancer Treatment". Cure. Special Issue 2008. 7 (4).
  11. Fenn, John E.; Udelsman, Robert (2011). "First Use of Intravenous Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment: Rectifying the Record". Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 212 (3): 413–417. doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2010.10.018. PMID   21247779.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Milestones in Cancer Research and Discovery". 2015-01-21.
  13. "Clinical virotherapy: four historically significant clinical trials".
  14. Huebner, RJ; Rowe, WP; Schatten, WE; Smith, RR; Thomas, LB (Nov–Dec 1956). "Studies on the use of viruses in the treatment of carcinoma of the cervix". Cancer. 9 (6): 1211–8. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(195611/12)9:6<1211::AID-CNCR2820090624>3.0.CO;2-7 . PMID   13383455.
  15. Fujiwara, A.; Hoshino, T.; Westley, J. W. (1985). "Anthracycline Antibiotics". Critical Reviews in Biotechnology. 3 (2): 133–157. doi:10.3109/07388558509150782.
  16. Buchwald, Jed Z. (2012-01-05). A Master of Science History: Essays in Honor of Charles Coulston Gillispie. Springer. ISBN   9789400726260.
  17. "1956: the first successful bone marrow transplantation". home.cancerresearch. Australian Cancer Research Foundation. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  18. Emadi A, Jones RJ, Brodsky RA (2009). "Cyclophosphamide and cancer: golden anniversary". Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 6 (11): 638–47. doi:10.1038/nrclinonc.2009.146. PMID   19786984. S2CID   18219134.
  19. Goldman (1966). "A review: Applications of the laser beam in cancer biology". International Journal of Cancer. 1 (4): 309–318. doi:10.1002/ijc.2910010402. S2CID   72256690.
  20. 1 2 Ravina, Enrique (2011). The evolution of drug discovery : from traditional medicines to modern drugs (1. Aufl. ed.). Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. pp. 157–159. ISBN   9783527326693.
  21. 1 2 3 4 Devita, Vincent T.; Chu, Edward (2008). "A History of Cancer Chemotherapy". Cancer Research. 68 (21): 8643–8653. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-6611 . PMID   18974103.
  22. Muceniece A.J., Bumbieris J.V. 1982. Transplantation antigens and their changes in carcinogenesis and viral infection. In: Virusnyi onkoliz i iskusstvennaya geterogenizatsiya opukholei (Viral Oncolysis and Artificial Heterogenization of Tumors). Riga, pp. 217–234.
  23. the stem bark of Mappia foetida, a tree native to India, has proved to be another source significant for the isolation of camptothecin. TR Govindachari and N. Viswnathan, Phytochemistry 11(12), 3529-31 (1972). Efferth T, Fu YJ, Zu YG, Schwarz G, Konkimalla VS, Wink M (2007). "Molecular target-guided tumor therapy with natural products derived from traditional Chinese medicine". Current Medicinal Chemistry. 14 (19): 2024–32. doi:10.2174/092986707781368441. PMID   17691944.
  24. Tanaka (1982). "Immunological aspects of cryosurgery in general surgery". Cryobiology. 19 (3): 247–62. doi:10.1016/0011-2240(82)90151-1. PMID   7105777.
  25. Richard J. Ablin, PhD (1998). "The Use of Cryosurgery for Breast Cancer". Arch Surg. 133 (1): 106. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.1.106. PMID   9438770.
  26. 1 2 According to Littrup et al., who performed cryoablation of breast tumors in clinical stages I-IV with a multi-probe freeze approach, isotherms within cryozones can be accurately controlled and such cryoablation enables the destruction of much bigger lesions, up to 7 cm in diameter (15)Tarkowski, R; Rzaca, M (2014). "Cryosurgery in the treatment of women with breast cancer". Gland Surg. 3 (2): 88–93. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2227-684X.2014.03.04. PMC   4115762 . PMID   25083502.
  27. Maximov, Philipp Y.; McDaniel, Russell E.; Craig Jordan, V. (2013-07-23). Tamoxifen: Pioneering Medicine in Breast Cancer. Springer. ISBN   9783034806640.
  28. Tamoxifen was born into a world of indifference in the '60s, when the focus of the research was on contraception. It grew up in the 70s, in a world where chemotherapy was king and hormonal therapies were perceived as non-starters in the quest to cure cancer.Jordan, V Craig (2000). "Tamoxifen: a personal retrospective" (PDF). The Lancet Oncology. 1 (1): 43–49. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(00)00009-7. PMID   11905688.
  29. 1 2 "Center for Devices and Radiological Health U.S. Food and Drug Administration". Food and Drug Administration .
  30. Huang, Z (2006). "Photodynamic therapy in China: Over 25 years of unique clinical experience: Part One—History and domestic photosensitizers". Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy. 3 (1): 3–10. doi:10.1016/S1572-1000(06)00009-3. PMID   25049020.Xu, DY (2007). "Research and development of photodynamic therapy photosensitizers in China". Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy. 4 (1): 13–25. doi:10.1016/j.pdpdt.2006.09.003. PMID   25047186.
  31. "The Story of Gleevec". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21.
  32. Willson, TM; Henke, BR; Momtahen, TM; Charifson, PS; Batchelor, KW; Lubahn, DB; Moore, LB; Oliver, BB; Sauls, HR; Triantafillou, JA (1994). "a non-steroidal estrogen with functional selectivity for bone over uterus in rats". J Med Chem. 37 (11): 1550–2. doi:10.1021/jm00037a002. PMID   8201587.
  33. 1 2 "Tamoxifen-like drug suggests new ways to selectively block estrogen".
  34. "Centre of laser medicine — Historical Aspects of Photodynamic Therapy Development" . Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  35. In 1997, a patient with osteosarcoma was first successfully treated with ultrasound imaging-guided HIFU in Chongqing, China. Over the last decade, thousands of patients with uterine fibroids, liver cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, bone tumors, and renal cancer have been treated with ultrasound imaging-guided HIFU. Based on several research groups’ reports, as well as our ten-year clinical experience, we conclude that this technique is safe and effective in treating human solid tumors.Zhang, Lian; Wang, Zhi-Biao (2010). "High-intensity focused ultrasound tumor ablation: Review of ten years of clinical experience". Frontiers of Medicine in China. 4 (3): 294–302. doi:10.1007/s11684-010-0092-8. PMID   21191835. S2CID   21219521.
  36. History of Cryosurgery. 1997.
  37. "FAQ".
  38. "FDA Review Letter" (PDF).
  39. "History of Ablatherm HIFU".
  40. "British National Formulary".
  41. Pearson, S; Jia, H; Kandachi, K (2004). "China approves first gene therapy". Nature Biotechnology. 22 (1): 3–4. doi:10.1038/nbt0104-3. PMC   7097065 . PMID   14704685.
  42. "how breast cancer drugs are developed". 17 June 2013.
  43. 1 2 "Paclitaxel, Protein-Bound Suspension". Paclitaxel, Protein-Bound Suspension. Cancer.Org. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  44. "International Cryosurgery Center". 2013.
  45. Niu, LZ; Li, JL; Zeng, JY; Mu, F; Liao, MT; Yao, F; Li, L; Liu, CY; Chen, JB; Zuo, JS; Xu, KC (2013). "Combination treatment with comprehensive cryoablation and immunotherapy in metastatic hepatocellular cancer". World J. Gastroenterol. 19 (22): 3473–80. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i22.3473 . PMC   3683687 . PMID   23801841.
  46. "thechinastory".
  47. "Cuba Announces Release of the World's First Lung Cancer Vaccine". PopSci. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  48. Vázquez, A.M, Hernández, A.M., Macías, A., et al. (2012). Racotumomab: an anti-idiotype vaccine related to N-glycolyl-containing gangliosides – preclinical and clinical data. Front Oncol. 2012;2:150.
  49. "FDA approves device used to treat prostate cancer".