Dr. DeVita, Dr. Canellos and Dr. Young

Offers First Hope That Advanced Cancers Can be Cured With Drug Treatment

While a monumental feat, the initial research was still met with skepticism. By the 1970s, though, researchers had developed an even more effective chemotherapy regimen, ABVD (doxorubicin or Adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine), which paved the way to Hodgkin lymphoma cure rates as high as 90 percent today. A major turning point came in 1965, when Dr. Vincent T. DeVita, Jr., and his colleagues at the National Institutes of Health reported the first chemotherapy-induced cure of adults with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma. They found that a combination of four drugs – mechlorethamine, vincristine (Oncovin), procarbazine and prednisone, a regimen named MOPP – induced long-term remissions in more than 50 percent of adults with the disease in a clinical trial.1 Prior to 1965, cancer was treated largely with surgery or radiation. The few available chemotherapy drugs were mostly used to help ease the symptoms of cancer – and were thought by many to do more harm than good.

Beyond the enormous benefits to patients with this disease, the discovery also helped kindle a sense of hope – among scientists and the public alike – that cancer research could yield major advances. Just six years later, President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, declaring a “war on cancer” and laying the foundation for investments in cancer research that remain critical today. 

Voter Comments

“A brave and insightful step that opened the door to innovative thinking.”

“This is the beginning of modern cancer therapy.”

“This was the clearest proof of concept that cancer was/is curable. It gave great impulse to therapeutic research that ultimately improved outcomes in breast, colon, kidney cancer, the leukemias and most childhood malignancies.”

References

  1. DeVita VT, Chu E: A History of Cancer Chemotherapy. Cancer Res 68: 8643-653, 2008

Additional Information

Chemotherapy Cures Hodgkin Lymphoma, 1965; Dr. Merry-Jennifer Markham