Top 5 Cancer Developments of 2016

Top 5 Cancer Developments of 2016 | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

We constantly update our blog to highlight new breakthroughs and developments in cancer treatment that would be useful for our clients. This week, our cancer lawyers looked at this year's news and picked out the five advances we thought were the most important.

1. Immunotherapy Emerges as Breakthrough Treatment

For lung and bladder cancer patients particularly, immunotherapy promises a new and exciting hope for the future. In 2016, immunotherapy beat chemotherapy as a first- or second-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Read more about lung cancer immunotherapy drugs here.

In March, Jimmy Carter announced that he was cancer free after treating with immunotherapy for his metastatic melanoma. It seems scientists have finally found an effective way to boost the immune system so the body can fight and kill cancer from within.

Billionaires and leaders in medical research launched several new cancer institutes this year, aimed primarily at immunotherapy research. Read more about the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine here.

2. New Drugs for Ovarian Cancer

In 2014 and 2016, respectively, the FDA approved two new drugs in the PARP inhibitor class, Lyparza and Rubraca. PARP is a protein that cancer cells rely on for growth.  

Both drugs are for women with BRCA-mutant ovarian cancer. Another PARP inhibitor in clinical trials, niraparib, will soon be available for women with all types of ovarian cancer, regardless of BRCA status.

3. Breast Cancer Survivors Sue Chemotherapy Maker for Permanent Hair Loss

In 2016, breast cancer patients learned that a specific chemotherapy drug, Taxotere, was linked to permanent hair loss. Since the drugmaker knew about this risk and did not warn doctors or patients about it, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed by women suffering permanent baldness.

More than 260 Taxotere lawsuits are now pending. Find more information here.

4. First Major Bladder Cancer Treatment Advancement in Decades

In May, the FDA approved Tecentriq to treat advanced bladder cancer. Before Tecentriq, these patients only had one approved treatment option: chemotherapy. If that failed, they had to move on to experimental treatments or hospice care.

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the country, but doesn’t receive the same attention as lung, breast, or skin cancer. Tecentriq is an immunotherapy drug, one of only two approved for bladder cancer. The other is BCG vaccine.

Read about Tecentriq and the bladder cancer lawsuits we're working on here.

5. Lifestyle Changes Recognized

The vast majority of doctors now agree that lifestyle and behavioral factors – like diet, physical activity, and obesity – significantly influence cancer risk. In October, the American Society of Clinical Oncology made its first-ever statement on obesity and its negative impact on cancer prevention and care.

This year marked the first time a medical study confirmed the benefits of meditation. The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, shows that meditation can change the brain and improve health. Another study determined that running was the best exercise for brain health.

Lastly, this month President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which grants over $4 billion for a federal cancer initiative. The initiative prioritizes precision medicine, which matches patients with unique treatments based on their lifestyle, genetics, and other factors.

We represent patients and families diagnosed with many different types of cancer, from many different sources. For the last 30 years our cancer lawyers have helped clients throughout the country get support, financial security, and justice for themselves and their families during this difficult time. We offer free legal consultations, and do not charge any attorneys' fees unless we win you a settlement or verdict.