Ten Years of Celebrating Cancer Immunotherapy Progress
Considered one of the most innovative new approaches to treating cancer since the advent of chemotherapy in the 1940s, immunotherapy is transforming patient experiences and giving many a better chance at longer life. As an emerging class of treatments that has produced dramatic results in some of the deadliest cancers, immunotherapy is now the standard of care for certain cancers and is poised to become the backbone of treatment for most types of cancer, given alone or in combination with other forms of treatment. Although not quite yet a household word, immunotherapy is gaining prominence as more and more patients become eligible to be treated with it.
Since its founding in 1953, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) has remained solely dedicated to funding scientific research that underpins today’s cancer immunotherapies. As an outgrowth of this work, CRI has become a trusted source of information on immunotherapy for patients and caregivers who are encountering it for the first time. The need for this kind of information—provided in both English and Spanish—has grown significantly as immunotherapy enters the mainstream.
Cancer Immunotherapy Month Origins
In 2011, decades of scientific research on the immune system and its response to cancer became real-world medicine when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ipilimumab, a type of active immunotherapy known as checkpoint blockade and the first in this class to receive approval from regulators. Over the next ten years, more immunotherapy approvals would be handed down, including for lung cancer, the most prevalent type of cancer worldwide.
To mark the momentous occasion and signal to the world that the cancer immunotherapy revolution had begun, CRI launched Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month in 2013 (later shortened to Cancer Immunotherapy Month™ or CIM). This awareness campaign takes place each June, during which CRI offers educational programming such as webinars with leading immunotherapy doctors, videos featuring stories from patients treated with immunotherapy, patient summits, immunotherapy updates from the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), corporate employee events, and a social media campaign that mobilizes our global community of supporters, sponsors, scientists, patients, and partners to spread the word about the lifesaving potential of immunotherapy and the vital need for research.
Sharing Knowledge and Inspiring Action
Over the years, Cancer Immunotherapy Month programming has reached millions of people around the world, inspiring them to “Stand with Science” and be part of “Generation Cure,” examples of various themes we at CRI have made part of this annual event.
CIM continues to serve as a platform for highlighting the many exciting advances happening today and celebrating the scientists and patients who make this progress possible. It has provided wonderful opportunities for CRI to showcase new initiatives, such as the launch of our Answer to Cancer immunotherapy patient information portal in 2014, and the unveiling of new CRI programs aimed at increasing diversity and health equity in academic research and patient care, including our translation into Spanish of the CRI website and announcing our new Spanish-language immunotherapy patient summit in 2021.
A Global Campaign to Save More Lives
Now, in 2022, we look back at the past decade of discovery, highlight some of the most innovative immunotherapy research happening today, and look ahead to a promising future immune to cancer for all patients. We are also inviting all our supporters to participate in the Walk/Run/Move Challenge to help raise funds to support CRI’s cancer immunotherapy research programs.
We are grateful for the generous support of our Cancer Immunotherapy Month sponsors and the broad participation of our nonprofit research and educational partners, whose dedication to improving cancer patient care through discovery and development of immunotherapies is helping to bring within reach a truly bright and promising future immune to cancer.