This is a historical timeline of the development and progress of cancer treatments, which includes time of discovery, progress, and approval of the treatments.
Cancer was traditionally treated with surgery, heat, or herbal (chemical) therapies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.