Blood cancers, such as CLL, are often where the first breakthroughs come in oncology perhaps because it is so easy to get a tissue sample to test, to monitor disease and to gauge response to therapy. With most solid tumors, repeated biopsies are not a realistic option. Many major solid cancers don’t have reliable tumor markers in the blood to measure. Thus doctors must rely on the less precise technique of imaging the tumor(s) to measure response to treatment. Research is much easier in blood cancers.
Some low-risk CLL patients who received FCR therapy over 12 years ago are still disease-free and some researchers believe these lucky patients may be cured.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) named CLL therapies in 2015 as the Cancer Advance of the Year in recognition of the recent rapid progress in treatments.