Nanor Pontigian Science & Tech Editor- The Pawprint
It is estimated that 7,230 people will die from melanoma this year in the US. Advanced melanoma patients, who once had a very low survival rate, now have the chance to live 5 years or more. Before, only 1 in 20 patients survived, while most died within 6 to 9 months.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden hospital in London, used a combination immunotherapy treatment, which teaches the immune system to fight Cancerous tumors, on 945 advanced melanoma patients.
The patients were divided into 3 groups. 314 of the patients received the “double-hit” of nivolumab plus ipilimumab, 316 patients received nivolumab plus a placebo; and the other 315 patients received ipilimumab plus a placebo.
The most successful treatment was with the patients that got a combination of treatment. 52% of those patients survived for 5 years or more, and 74% of them were no longer receiving treatment anymore.
James Larkin, who presented the results, said that there was a little change in the patients, between three and five years, and they were quite hopeful. “The chance of being alive at five years is quite similar to three years and four years, for those patients getting to five years, many or most are off treatment and leading normal lives.”
There has been quite a few people, who are unable to tolerate the side effects, and have had to stop treatment within a few weeks, still they have found that it did not matter, even a short time of the treatment, kick-started their immune system. The survival rates, seem to be just as successful, either way.
Pamela Smith, 69 years of age, started on immunotherapy trial after finding out about the spread of her Melanoma. “It was inoperable, so the trial was my only option,” she said. “I’d been having treatment every two weeks for about four months when I developed diarrhoea that was so bad I had to come off treatment.
“Amazingly, the first scan and every scan since has shown that in that relatively short time it worked. My tumor shrunk to less than half its original size and it hasn’t changed in five years,” she added.