American Cancer Society 2020 Reports Largest One-year Drop in Cancer Mortality

According to an annual statistics report from the American Cancer Society the death rate from cancer in the US declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop ever recorded.

The decline in deaths from lung cancer drove the record drop. Deaths fell from about 3% per year from 2008 – 2013 to 5% from 2013 – 2017 in men and from 2% to almost 4% in women. However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death.

The report also credits advancements in treatment as major factor in decrease of lung cancer death rate.

“The accelerated drops in lung cancer mortality as well as in melanoma that we’re seeing are likely due at least in part to advances in cancer treatment over the past decade, such as immunotherapy,” said William G. Cance, MD, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, in a statement. “They are a profound reminder of how rapidly this area of research is expanding, and now leading to real hope for cancer patients.”

This report gives us hope, it also shows that the support of our donors is truly helping the medical community develop advances in treatment that are changing the way we treat lung cancer. However, since lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths, it also illustrates how important it is to continue support promising clinical trials

Consider donating today and join us in our fight to help cure lung cancer.

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Joan DeCotis Foundation’s 2019 Summer Gala: Night Under the Stars to Help Fund Innovative Clinical Treatments for Lung Cancer

NARRAGANSETT, RI—The Joan DeCotis Foundation will host its 3rd Gala and Auction on Thursday, August 1, 2019 at the Dunes Club in Narragansett, Rhode Island, from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. This evening of elegance is sure to be a night to remember. Gala guests will join the Joan DeCotis Foundation, along with members from Brown University Oncology Research Group (BrUOG), at this exclusive, member only beach club for a night of hope and inspiration as they shine a light on the efforts being made to cure lung cancer.

Since 2016, the Joan DeCotis Foundation has partnered with BrUOG, one of the leading cancer research groups in the county, to help raise lung cancer awareness. These efforts have raised more than $260,000 towards supporting clinical drug trials for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. This night of luxury will include a cocktail hour, a seated dinner, dessert and a live and silent auction.

“Our Gala and Auction is an opportunity for lung cancer patients and survivors, their caregivers, healthcare professionals, and members of the community to see first-hand how important philanthropic support is in the research and development of these clinical trials, which continue to offer some of the best treatment hope for those with lung cancer. And as someone who has lost both parents to this disease, I am dedicated to finding a cure for what continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. I have hope that with our continued support, we can change the way we treat lung cancer.”

-Kristen Decotis-Liguori, Joan DeCotis Foundation Board Member.

The Foundation is pleased to announce that former WLNE-TV ABC6 and WPRI-TV12 meteorologist, Steve Cascione, and Vice President of Commercial Lending at Navigant Credit Union, Jeff Cascione, will serve as auctioneer and Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Guests can bid on items ranging from to trips to New York, Boston, and Aruba to exclusive dining, golf, sport and theatre experiences, to luxury lifestyle brands. Gala attendees can also stop by the Joan DeCotis Foundation step and repeat and have their picture taken to remember their time at this incredible event.

“The donations made by the Joan DeCotis Foundation over the years have supported innovative lung cancer trials and allowed BrUOG to initiate a new lung cancer trial, an opportunity made possible by the generosity of The Foundation. Our hope is to make important advances in the treatment of lung cancer through continuing to initiate novel trials- the support of the Joan DeCotis Foundation has been and continues to be critically important in helping us achieve this goal. We value the partnership with both the Foundation and the DeCotis Family and share in their hope to one day find a cure. In the interim we look forward to continuing to support and attend their annual Gala fundraisers.”
-Kayla Guarino, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

By supporting events like the Night Under the Stars Gala, guests help the Joan DeCotis Foundation realize its mission to raise awareness of lung cancer and to support promising clinical trials that will help improve the outcome for those battling this deadly disease.

Media interested in covering the 2019 Summer Gala: Night Under the Stars, should contact Joan DeCotis Foundation Board Member, Lisa Woodford, at or 781-738-3325. For information on how to register or to become a sponsor, visit or contact the Foundation at

About the Joan DeCotis Foundation
The Joan DeCotis Foundation is a Rhode Island based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to raising awareness of lung cancer and supporting promising clinical trials by partnering with various research teams, doctors, and hospitals to support their efforts to achieve success with their patients. For more information visit

Joan DeCotis Foundation Continues Support for BrUOG's Clinical Drug Trials

Members of the Joan DeCotis Foundation Board of Directors presenting a check to Kayla Rosati, Director of Operations for the Brown University Oncology Research Group. (Left to right): Mark McGovern, Joyce McGovern, Kayla Rosati, Kristen Liguori, Ralph Liguori.


This past winter, the Joan DeCotis Foundation continued its mission of finding a cure for lung cancer by supporting the efforts of the Brown University Oncology Research Group (BrUOG). In December 2016, the Foundation presented a check to BrUOG to fund two clinical drug trials. BrUOG will use the funds to continue work on two clinical trials:

BrUOG 317-Nivolumab and Ablation For Patients With Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Progressing After at Least One Prior Therapy For Metastatic Disease: Nivolumab releases the inhibition of the immune system against human cancers. Dramatic and sustained activity has been observed in advanced lung cancer. Ablation may stimulate the immune system by exposing new tumor antigens. Since tumors that express PD-L1 may be more likely to respond to nivolumab, if ablation increases PD-L1 expression (which has not been studied) this treatment may enhance the activity of nivolumab at both the treated site and in other, non-treated, tumors. Ablation is already an FDA approved treatment for cancer. Nivolumab was recently FDA approved for second line treatment of advanced squamous cell NSCLC. The goal of the study will be to determine if the combination of nivolumab and ablation has higher systemic activity than previously reported with nivolumab alone.

BrUOG L301- Xofigo Following Frontline-Line Chemotherapy For Patients With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Bone Metastases: In this study, patients will receive the medicine Xofigo which is a radioactive drug that is FDA approved to treat prostate cancer that has spread to the bones. Xofigo has not previously been tested to treat lung cancer that has spread to the bones. Doctors are studying the effects, good and bad, of Xofigo when used to treat lung cancer that has spread to the bones.

It is the hope of the Joan DeCotis Foundation that efforts such as these by BrUOG will continue to drive innovation and progress towards the Foundation’s goal of finding a true cure for lung cancer.

What’s New in Small Cell Lung Cancer Research?

Research into the prevention, early detection, and treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is being done in many medical centers throughout the world.



Prevention offers the greatest opportunity to fight lung cancer. Although decades have passed since the link between smoking and lung cancers became clear, smoking is still responsible for most lung cancer deaths. Research is continuing on:

  • Ways to help people quit smoking and stay tobacco-free through counseling, nicotine replacement, and other medicines
  • Ways to convince young people to never start smoking
  • Inherited differences in genes that may make some people much more likely to get lung cancer if they smoke or are exposed to someone else’s smoke

Environmental causes

Researchers also continue to look into some of the other causes of lung cancer, such as exposure to radon and diesel exhaust. Finding new ways to limit these exposures could potentially save many more lives.

Diet, nutrition, and medicines

Researchers are looking for ways to use vitamins or medicines to help prevent lung cancer in people at high risk, but so far none have been shown clearly to reduce risk.

Some studies have suggested that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may offer some protection, but more research is needed to confirm this. While any protective effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk is likely to be much smaller than the increased risk from smoking, following the American Cancer Society dietary recommendations (such as staying at a healthy weight and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) may still be helpful.

Early detection

As mentioned in the section Can small cell lung cancer be found early?, screening with spiral CT scans in people at high risk of lung cancer (due to smoking history) has been found to lower the risk of death from lung cancer, when compared to chest x-rays.

Another approach now being studied uses newer, sensitive tests to look for cancer cells in sputum samples. Researchers have found several changes often seen in the DNA of lung cancer cells. Studies are looking at tests that can spot these DNA changes to see if they can find lung cancers at an earlier stage.


Fluorescence bronchoscopy

Also known as autofluorescence bronchoscopy, this technique might help doctors find some lung cancers earlier, when they are likely to be easier to treat. For this test, the doctor inserts a bronchoscope through the mouth or nose and into the lungs. The end of the bronchoscope has a special fluorescent light on it, instead of a normal (white) light.

The fluorescent light causes abnormal areas in the airways to show up in a different color than healthy parts of the airway. Some of these areas might not be visible under white light, so the color difference can help doctors find these areas sooner. Some cancer centers now use this technique to look for early lung cancers, especially if there are no obvious tumors seen with normal bronchoscopy.

Virtual bronchoscopy

This imaging test uses a chest CT scan to create a detailed 3-dimensional picture of the airways in the lungs. The images can be seen as if the doctor were actually using a bronchoscope.

Virtual bronchoscopy has some possible advantages over standard bronchoscopy. First, it is non-invasive and doesn’t require anesthesia. It also helps doctors look at some airways that they might not be able to reach with standard bronchoscopy, such as those being blocked by a tumor. But this test has some drawbacks as well. For example, it doesn’t show color changes in the airways that might indicate a problem. It also doesn’t let a doctor take samples of suspicious areas like bronchoscopy does. Still, it may be a useful tool in some situations, such as in people who might be too sick to get a standard bronchoscopy.

This test will probably become more available as the technology improves.


Real-time tumor imaging

Researchers are looking to use new imaging techniques, such as four-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT), to help improve treatment. In this technique, the CT machine scans the chest continuously for about 30 seconds. It shows where the tumor is in relation to other structures as a person breathes, as opposed to just giving a ‘snapshot’ of a point in time, like a standard CT does.

4DCT can be used to determine exactly where the tumor is during each part of the breathing cycle, which can help doctors deliver radiation to a tumor more precisely. This technique might also be used to help show if a tumor is attached to or invading important structures in the chest, which could help doctors determine if a patient might be eligible for surgery.

Radiation therapy

Several newer methods for giving radiation therapy have become available in recent years, For example, some newer radiation therapy machines have imaging scanners built into them. This advance, known as image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), lets the doctor take pictures of the lung and make minor adjustments in aiming just before giving the radiation. This may help deliver the radiation more precisely, which might result in fewer side effects.


Clinical trials are looking at newer chemotherapy drugs and combinations of drugs to determine which are the safest and most effective. This is especially important in patients who are older and have other health problems.

Doctors are also searching for better ways to combine chemotherapy with radiation therapy and other treatments.

Targeted therapy drugs

Researchers are learning more about the inner workings of lung cancer cells that control their growth and spread. This is being used to develop new targeted therapy drugs. These drugs work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs. They might work in some cases when standard chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different (and less severe) side effects. Many of these treatments are being tested in clinical trials to see if they can help people with lung cancer live longer or relieve their symptoms.

Some of the targeted drugs now being studied include alisertib and linsitinib.

Immune treatments

Researchers are developing immunotherapy drugs that can help the body’s immune system fight the cancer.

Immune check point inhibitors: Cancer cells can sometimes avoid being attacked by the body’s immune system by using certain “checkpoints” that normally keep the immune system in check. For example, cancer cells often have a lot of a protein called PD-L1 on their surface that helps them evade the immune system. New drugs that block the PD-L1 protein, or the corresponding PD-1 protein on immune cells called T cells, can help the immune system recognize the cancer cells and attack them.

Nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) are anti-PD-1 drugs that are already used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer. These drugs have also been shown to shrink some small cell lung cancers in early studies.

Ipilimumab (Yervoy) is a drug that targets CTLA-4, another protein in the body that normally suppresses the immune response. The drug is also being studied in SCLC.

The combination of CTLA-4 and PD-1 targeted drugs has also shown early promise in SCLC.

Vaccines: Several types of vaccines for boosting the body’s immune response against lung cancer cells are being tested in clinical trials. Unlike vaccines against infections like measles or mumps, these vaccines are designed to help treat, not prevent, lung cancer. These types of treatments seem to have very limited side effects, so they might be useful in people who can’t tolerate other treatments. At this time, vaccines are only available in clinical trials.

Originally published on

Updated Results for Small-Molecule Drug in Phase I/II Trial Show Strong Promise

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (based in Cambridge, MA and Lausanne, Switzerland) updated results for brigatinib, a small-molecule drug that targets a specific gene in a range of cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer. The survival rate of patients in the trials has been very promising.

Possible Clue Found to Mesothelioma’s Resistance to Chemotherapy

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna have found a possible clue regarding mesothelioma’s resistance to chemotherapy. They believe that cancer cells break away during normal chemotherapy, circulate throughout the body, and then rejoin together into “cancer clusters” that drugs cannot penetrate. This new insight could lead researchers to create new treatments that fight these chemo-resistant cancer clusters, increasing survival for some mesothelioma patients.

New Study Shows the Mechanisms That Cancer Cells Use to Evade Targeted Therapies

A study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting by the University of Colorado Cancer Center describes the ways that cancer cells have evolved to resist the drug LOXO-101, currently being evaluated in phase I and II clinical trials. This discovery could lead to new ways to counter the mechanisms that cancer cells use.

World Cancer Day

aking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2016-2018 will explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. Explore how you can take part in the global fight to end cancer: Make sure to use hashtags #WorldCancerDay #WeCanICan

What are the Treatment Options for Lung Cancer?

The opportunity to detect the cancer early means more individuals can be cured with surgical excision or with radiation therapy. Either can be followed by adjuvant chemotherapy for those with a high likelihood of microscopic disease spread.

Radiation therapy is a common treatment for lung cancer. The combination of chemotherapy with radiation therapy has curative potential in locally advanced NSCLC and in limited stage SCLC. New approaches to radiation therapy allow for much higher doses of radiation to the tumor with much less damage to surrounding normal tissues. Current chemotherapy drugs, usually used in combination with one another, have clearly improved the quality of life for patients with more advanced disease, slowed progression of the tumor and created a definite, albeit relatively short, survival advantage.

Of interest in drug therapy today is the advent of targeted drugs - ones that inhibit a specific abnormal protein in the tumor cell that is a driver of the cancer. These are the products of DNA mutations or DNA rearrangements and are uncovered by genomic analysis. Because the new drugs are quite specific, they affect the tumor but cause proportionally fewer side effects. Responses among patients with the DNA mutations in their cancers tend to occur rapidly and often with marked regression of the tumor. Unfortunately, relapses eventually occur as resistance develops and the drugs are quite expensive. There is an important proof of principle here that has been accomplished, and improvements in targeted treatment are coming fast and furiously.

There is good evidence that the best results with early diagnosis and with effective treatment lies in organizations that have high levels of expertise and utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to care wherein the patient is seen concurrently by surgeon, radiation therapist and medical oncologist to devise the most appropriate approach to care. Added to this, palliative care begun at the time of diagnosis adds to patient comfort, lessens anxiety, and reduces overall costs while improving satisfaction with caregivers and therapies.

With the advent of early diagnosis with CT screening, more effective yet less damaging approaches to radiation therapy, effective chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy for those with driver mutations, all initiated in experienced hands with a multi-disciplinary approach and early institution of palliative care, perhaps the light is now actually beginning to glow at the end of the tunnel for lung cancer patients and their families.

Written by Stephen C Schimpff, MD
Originally published on