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The American Society of Clinical Oncology asked people to vote on what they considered the five most important advances in clinical cancer research in the last 50 years (selected from a list of 32 possibilities).


The results-from physicians and other health care professionals, patients, and the general public-are the following, as described in ASCO's announcement:


1 Chemotherapy cures advanced Hodgkin lymphoma: In the first chemotherapy breakthrough for advanced cancer in adults, the four-drug MOPP regimen induced long-term remissions in over half of patients with aggressive Hodgkin lymphoma. This 1965 discovery sparked the first hope that advanced cancers could be cured with drug treatment, and paved the way for the 90 percent cure rates for such patients today.


2 HPV vaccine approved to prevent cervical cancer: The FDA's 2006 approval of the first human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil, protects against the two strains of HPV known to cause most cervical cancers. Widespread vaccination, if fully implemented, stands to drive dramatic reductions in cervical and other HPV-related cancers in the U.S. and worldwide.


3 Targeted drug transforms treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia: The rapid FDA review and approval of imatinib (Gleevec) in 2001 dramatically changed the treatment of patients with CML. The easy-to-take daily pill-which targets a molecular defect present in nearly all patients with CML-turned a disease with almost no long-term survivors into one with five-year survival rates of 90 percent, also ushering in a new era of successful research on molecularly targeted treatments for many more cancers.


4 Chemotherapy cures men with testicular cancer: The three-drug PVB combination produced complete remissions and some cures for more than 70 percent of men with advanced testicular cancer, compared with the five percent possible with earlier chemotherapy. This 1977 discovery, coupled with later surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy advances, made testicular cancer one of the most curable cancers and one of oncology's biggest success stories.


5 Powerful anti-nausea drugs dramatically improve quality of life: The FDA approval of the anti-nausea drug ondansetron (Zofran) in 1991, as well as other supportive care drugs in the following years, dramatically changed the experience of cancer treatment, bringing unprecedented improvements to patients' quality of life. These drugs not only bring relief from intense, treatment-induced nausea, but make it possible for patients to avoid once-routine hospital stays, complete their full course of treatment, and live longer and better lives.