New Drug Treatment for Skin Cancer - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New Drug Treatment for Skin Cancer ‘As Big A Breakthrough As Chemotherapy’


UNDATED (DAILYRECORD.CO.UK) -- Skin cancer sufferers were given fresh hope as two revolutionary new treatments were unveiled.

The "magic bullet" drugs were hailed as a breakthrough on the same level as the introduction of chemotherapy.

One supercharges the body's immune system to attack tumors while the other halts a mutant gene.

Both could extend the lives of people with the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.

Experts believe they will also work on prostate, liver, lung and head cancers.

The results of the ground-breaking trials were presented to 2000 of the world's leading cancer experts in Chicago yesterday.

The first drug, Ipilimumab, kick starts the body's immune system to attack and destroy tumors. It was revealed it can extend life expectancy in patients from six months to three years and beyond.

Meanwhile, 84 per cent of patients given vemurafenib pills twice a day were still alive six months later - compared with 64 per cent of those on standard chemotherapy.

This second drug precision-targets a faulty gene which causes cancer to grow uncontrollably - and its results were so impressive that experts running the trial stopped it early so they could switch all patients in the chemotherapy group on to the new drug.

Dr James Larkin, a consultant oncologist at London's Royal Marsden Hospital, who took part in the trials, described the dual test results release as a medical landmark.

He said: "We had one patient with advanced melanoma with a life expectancy of a matter of weeks but she responded and now, six years later, she is back to normal and getting on with her life."

Dr Renzo Canetta, of Bristol-Myers Squibb, who developed Ipilimumab, said: "It is as important a step forward as chemotherapy. It is a powerful tool and we will not stop at melanoma."

Ipilimumab is expected to be given approval by the European Medicines Association in the next two months.

Roche, the firm behind vemurafenib, have submitted their data to European and US regulators to apply for a licence.

The firms plan to join forces to come up with a combination treatment.

Melanoma is the fastest-growing cancer in men and second fastest in woman around the globe. It kills 2000 Brits a year.


RICHARD JACKSON had just become a dad for the second time when he got the devastating news that he was in the grip of an aggressive skin cancer.

The assistant head teacher was told little could be done to halt it spreading.

He said: "It was horrible. I had chemotherapy that ultimately did not work, so that looked about it. But my doctor told me about this drug three years ago and it has pretty much chased the cancer away."

Richard, 43, who lives in Cheshire, was diagnosed after odd-shaped moles started appearing on his skin.

He said: "They ranged from golf to tennis ball size and were an aggressive dark-blue color.

"I had chemotherapy but then they said there was nothing else they could do - until a chance came along to take Ipilimumab."

The treatment managed to switch on Richard's immune system and slowly the moles reduced in size and severity.

He said: "We were watching TV one night and my wife said she could see a mole changing color as the red blood cells went in and got the cancer.

"That was three years ago. The normal survival rate is so poor, I wouldn't be here without it.

"I lost a lot of weight and the treatment is tough on the digestive system but I was never going to fade away."

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