Samantha Gassel, CareContent

Medical Advances And Trends: Looking Back On 2016

Can you believe that another year has come and gone?

2017 is solidly here. But let’s take a look at some of the health and medicine advances and innovations we saw in 2016:

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy—a type of therapy that boosts your body’s immune system to fight cancer—has been hailed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology as the “clinical cancer advance of the year.”

Over the past year, researchers have worked on furthering immunotherapy, and improving vaccines for several types of cancer.

Some of the highlights of immunotherapy advancements in 2016 include:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting accelerated approval for an immunotherapy drug (atezolizumab), which treats the most common type of bladder cancer.
  • The FDA granting approval for an immunotherapy treatment (nivolumab), which treats Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Clinical trials being conducted to test the effects of combining immunotherapy with traditional cancer treatments—radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
  • Research exploring how to predict which patients will respond best to particular immunotherapies.

Fun fact: Immunotherapy is also being studied for veterinary medicine, so you can keep your pet cancer-free.

The National Cancer Moonshot Initiative

2016 has been a big year for politics, and we’ve seen division between parties grow. However, there is a health issue that unites Americans across party lines—cancer.

Cancer research gained more governmental support this year, with Vice President Joe Biden leading a new initiative to fight cancer—The National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

medical advances

The White House granted the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative $1 billion, allowing funds for many facets of cancer research and treatment, including:

  • Developing vaccines to prevent cancer.
  • Developing and evaluating advanced, minimally invasive screening tools for early detection.
  • Research drivers of pediatric cancer.
  • Create new technologies to characterize tumors and test therapies.
  • Minimize debilitating side effects of cancer treatment (e.g. pain, fatigue, anemia, infection).

Retail Clinics

Good news—it’s getting easier and easier to get medical care while you’re shopping for orange juice and shampoo. Retail medical clinics—like the ones you find at CVS or Walgreens—have continued being popular this year.

Retail clinics offer several benefits to patients—most notably, convenience and price. This year, there were several shifts and growing trends, such as:

  • CVS is continuing to add clinics to its stores. The company expects to open more than 150 more in the next year, adding to the existing 1,000+ clinics.
  • Walk-in clinics at Target are now being operated by CVS.
  • Walgreens has aligned its clinics with major hospital groups. In the Chicago area (the home of CareContent), Walgreens’ clinics are now owned and managed by Advocate Health Care, Chicago’s largest hospital system.
  • Walmart has continued working with DirectHealth.com to help customers understand health insurance options—what they need, how much different plans cost, and how to enroll.

Advancements In Surgery

Every year, millions of surgeries are performed in the US. And while many surgeries are successful and safe, researchers are always looking for ways to improve techniques and outcomes.

In 2016, we learned about innovations in many different fields of surgery:

  • A new procedure was developed for single ventricle, a life-threatening heart disease that affects newborns. The current procedure involves placing a plastic shunt into the heart. While effective, the plastic can cause blood clots. The new procedure uses the patient’s own umbilical cord to create a shunt that doesn’t increase the risk of clots.  
  • Bridge-Enhanced ACL Repair (BEAR) to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) moved into phase 2 of a clinical trial. The new, less invasive procedure uses a sponge bridge, rather than a graft from the patient’s own body,
  • A fluorescent dye technique that has been used for lung cancer surgery is showing promise for brain surgery. The dye is injected into the patient, and accumulates more in cancerous tissue than non-cancerous tissue. The surgeon has a more precise view of the tumor so she can remove cancer cells that are not visible.

From all of us at CareContent, we wish you a very happy and especially healthy new year!