The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2018 Clinical Cancer Advances report highlights the most important clinical advances of 2017 and previews where cancer science is headed. New treatments help patients with melanoma and ovarian, lung, bladder, brain, and prostate cancer live longer, and many other new therapies delay cancer worsening or lower the chance of recurrence.

In the span of just 1 year—from November 2016 through October 2017—the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 31 new therapies for > 16 types of cancer. Among the new approvals are two firsts: an adoptive cell immunotherapy—the ASCO Advance of the Year—and a tumor agnostic therapy, that is, treatment that works against different types of cancers that share a common genetic abnormality.

First Adoptive Cell Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy for Cancer

In August 2017, the FDA approved the first adoptive cell immunotherapy, also known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, and the first gene therapy for cancer, tisagenlecleucel. This double first approval stems from decades of research on how to train the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer.