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      Evolution of Cancer Pharmacological Treatments at the Turn of the Third Millennium

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          Abstract

          The medical history of cancer began millennia ago. Historical findings of patients with cancer date back to ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations, where this disease was predominantly treated with radical surgery and cautery that were often ineffective, leading to the death of patients. Over the centuries, important discoveries allowed to identify the biological and pathological features of tumors, without however contributing to the development of effective therapeutic approaches until the end of the 1800s, when the discovery of X-rays and their use for the treatment of tumors provided the first modern therapeutic approach in medical oncology. However, a real breakthrough took place after the Second World War, with the discovery of cytotoxic antitumor drugs and the birth of chemotherapy for the treatment of various hematological and solid tumors. Starting from this epochal turning point, there has been an exponential growth of studies concerning the use of new drugs for cancer treatment. The second fundamental breakthrough in the field of oncology and pharmacology took place at the beginning of the ‘80s, thanks to molecular and cellular biology studies that allowed the development of specific drugs for some molecular targets involved in neoplastic processes, giving rise to targeted therapy. Both chemotherapy and target therapy have significantly improved the survival and quality of life of cancer patients inducing sometimes complete tumor remission. Subsequently, at the turn of the third millennium, thanks to genetic engineering studies, there was a further advancement of clinical oncology and pharmacology with the introduction of monoclonal antibodies and immune checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of advanced or metastatic tumors, for which no effective treatment was available before. Today, cancer research is always aimed at the study and development of new therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment. Currently, several researchers are focused on the development of cell therapies, anti-tumor vaccines, and new biotechnological drugs that have already shown promising results in preclinical studies, therefore, in the near future, we will certainly assist to a new revolution in the field of medical oncology.

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          Most cited references 269

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          Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: sources, methods and major patterns in GLOBOCAN 2012.

          Estimates of the worldwide incidence and mortality from 27 major cancers and for all cancers combined for 2012 are now available in the GLOBOCAN series of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. We review the sources and methods used in compiling the national cancer incidence and mortality estimates, and briefly describe the key results by cancer site and in 20 large "areas" of the world. Overall, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were lung (1.82 million), breast (1.67 million), and colorectal (1.36 million); the most common causes of cancer death were lung cancer (1.6 million deaths), liver cancer (745,000 deaths), and stomach cancer (723,000 deaths). © 2014 UICC.
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            Sorafenib in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

            No effective systemic therapy exists for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. A preliminary study suggested that sorafenib, an oral multikinase inhibitor of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, the platelet-derived growth factor receptor, and Raf may be effective in hepatocellular carcinoma. In this multicenter, phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 602 patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma who had not received previous systemic treatment to receive either sorafenib (at a dose of 400 mg twice daily) or placebo. Primary outcomes were overall survival and the time to symptomatic progression. Secondary outcomes included the time to radiologic progression and safety. At the second planned interim analysis, 321 deaths had occurred, and the study was stopped. Median overall survival was 10.7 months in the sorafenib group and 7.9 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio in the sorafenib group, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.55 to 0.87; P<0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in the median time to symptomatic progression (4.1 months vs. 4.9 months, respectively, P=0.77). The median time to radiologic progression was 5.5 months in the sorafenib group and 2.8 months in the placebo group (P<0.001). Seven patients in the sorafenib group (2%) and two patients in the placebo group (1%) had a partial response; no patients had a complete response. Diarrhea, weight loss, hand-foot skin reaction, and hypophosphatemia were more frequent in the sorafenib group. In patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, median survival and the time to radiologic progression were nearly 3 months longer for patients treated with sorafenib than for those given placebo. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00105443.) 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Use of chemotherapy plus a monoclonal antibody against HER2 for metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses HER2.

              The HER2 gene, which encodes the growth factor receptor HER2, is amplified and HER2 is overexpressed in 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers, increasing the aggressiveness of the tumor. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of trastuzumab, a recombinant monoclonal antibody against HER2, in women with metastatic breast cancer that overexpressed HER2. We randomly assigned 234 patients to receive standard chemotherapy alone and 235 patients to receive standard chemotherapy plus trastuzumab. Patients who had not previously received adjuvant (postoperative) therapy with an anthracycline were treated with doxorubicin (or epirubicin in the case of 36 women) and cyclophosphamide alone (138 women) or with trastuzumab (143 women). Patients who had previously received adjuvant anthracycline were treated with paclitaxel alone (96 women) or paclitaxel with trastuzumab (92 women). The addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy was associated with a longer time to disease progression (median, 7.4 vs. 4.6 months; P<0.001), a higher rate of objective response (50 percent vs. 32 percent, P<0.001), a longer duration of response (median, 9.1 vs. 6.1 months; P<0.001), a lower rate of death at 1 year (22 percent vs. 33 percent, P=0.008), longer survival (median survival, 25.1 vs. 20.3 months; P=0.01), and a 20 percent reduction in the risk of death. The most important adverse event was cardiac dysfunction of New York Heart Association class III or IV, which occurred in 27 percent of the group given an anthracycline, cyclophosphamide, and trastuzumab; 8 percent of the group given an anthracycline and cyclophosphamide alone; 13 percent of the group given paclitaxel and trastuzumab; and 1 percent of the group given paclitaxel alone. Although the cardiotoxicity was potentially severe and, in some cases, life-threatening, the symptoms generally improved with standard medical management. Trastuzumab increases the clinical benefit of first-line chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses HER2.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Pharmacol
                Front Pharmacol
                Front. Pharmacol.
                Frontiers in Pharmacology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1663-9812
                13 November 2018
                2018
                : 9
                Affiliations
                1Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, University of Catania , Catania, Italy
                2Research Center for Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer (PreDiCT), University of Catania , Catania, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Apostolos Zarros, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

                Reviewed by: Yanqi Ye, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States; Darius John Rowland Lane, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Australia

                *Correspondence: Salvatore Salomone salomone@ 123456unict.it

                This article was submitted to Experimental Pharmacology and Drug Discovery, a section of the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology

                Article
                10.3389/fphar.2018.01300
                6243123
                Copyright © 2018 Falzone, Salomone and Libra.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 280, Pages: 26, Words: 22042
                Categories
                Pharmacology
                Review

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