As the most severe form of skin cancer, melanoma is a diagnosis that nobody wants to receive. However, if detected early, melanoma can often be successfully treated.
There are various treatments for melanoma, and a patient’s treatment plan is based mainly on the severity and stage of the melanoma(s). One option is immunotherapy, a drug treatment that supports your immune system to fight cancer. And now that researchers have discovered that immunotherapy benefits may last beyond the treatment period, it’s proving to be a more promising method than initially realized.
Let’s take a closer look at how immunotherapy works for melanoma and what we’ve recently learned about post-treatment benefits.
What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment method that relies on specialized drugs to equip your immune system with the ability to fight cancer cells.
The body’s immune system often does not naturally attack cancerous cells because cancer can “hide” by producing unique proteins. Immunotherapy is designed to interfere with that production process so the immune system can effectively recognize and combat cancer cells.
New Findings: Immunotherapy Still Works Post-Treatment in Melanoma
Through a 10-year analysis of cancer research studies, scientists discovered that the immunotherapy drug known as “pembrolizumab” showed long-term benefits supporting patient survival. These benefits continued even after immunotherapy treatment was complete.
The analysis evaluated data collected from more than 1,500 patients with advanced melanoma who were given treatment with pembrolizumab. Researchers also looked at information from other studies on nivolumab (another immunotherapy drug) and data reported by the American Cancer Society.
Their findings were extremely promising:
- Pembrolizumab increased both the progression-free and overall survival rates for melanoma patients.
- There were marked benefits to using pembrolizumab, regardless of BRAF mutation status (which occurs in about 40% of metastatic melanoma cases) or patients’ earlier treatments using BRAF-targeting therapy.
- One of the specific benefits of pembrolizumab was its anti-tumor activity.
- About 86% of patients were progression-free 20 months after undergoing two years of advanced melanoma immunotherapy treatment.
Essentially, immunotherapy has opened a new door to improved melanoma treatment results – and with more research, scientists are hopeful that they can make even more progress.
Melanoma Education & Prevention
Of course, prevention and early detection are the most successful tools for combatting skin cancer.
Here are a few critical facts about melanoma prevention:
- Melanomas can occur anywhere on your body, not just in areas exposed to the sun.
- Early signs of melanoma include the development of an unusual or pigmented growth on your skin or changes in an existing mole.
- You can use the “ABCDE” method to assess unusual moles.
- Hidden melanomas (located in unexpected places like under a nail, in the mouth, or in the eye) can present a particular risk to individuals with darker skin tones.
Get More Information about How to Prevent Melanoma Now
Now is the time if you haven’t had a skin cancer screening in the last 12 months. Early detection is crucial in achieving successful treatment results and can often literally be the difference between life and death.
Schedule your skin cancer screening or request more information about treatment options when you contact us today.