Major Advances in the Treatment of Cancer What does a Non-Oncologist need to know?

Ikram A Burney, Mansour S Al-Moundhri


The last few years have seen major advances in the management of cancers. Since it is not possible for the non-oncologist to keep abreast with the latest developments in the field of oncology, this review summarises the most significant advances in the area of treatment of various cancers over the past four years. In some areas, a paradigm shift has occurred setting new standards of care, for example, the use of targeted therapy (trastuzumab) in adjuvant treatment of breast cancer; the use of monoclonal antibodies(rituximab), with or without chemotherapy, in the treatment and maintenance of indolent lymphoma; the use of the tyrosine kinaseinhibitor, imatinib, in the adjuvant setting in resected gastrointestinal stromal tumours. In other areas, new treatments have emerged,such as, the use of targeted therapies in hepatocellular carcinoma (sorafenib) and renal cell carcinoma (sunitinib, sorafenib, temsirolimus, bevacizumab). In some other cancers, the addition of targeted therapies has improved survival rates, for example, in colon cancer (bevacizumab, cetuximb, panitumumab), head and neck cancers (cetuximab), and pancreatic adenocarcinoma (erlotinib). In yet another group, new targeted therapies have emerged where resistance was previously observed with the existing targeted therapies, for example, breast cancer (lapatinib), chronic myeloid leukemia (dasatinib). Finally, the addition of chemotherapeutic agents has improved survival in some forms of cancer, for example, oxaliplatin in adjuvant treatment of colon cancer, temozolamide in glioblastoma multiforme, and adjuvant chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer. The information summarized here may provide useful for the busy physician needing an update in the field of oncology.


Medical Oncology; Trastuzumab; Rituximab; Imatinib; Sorafenib; Sunitinib; Bevacizumab.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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