Ongoing clinical trials herald success for a groundbreaking treatment for the killer skin cancer ‘advanced melanoma. At the annual European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam last month, Professor Alexander Eggermont announced the good news and forecast that within five to ten years advanced melanoma could become a curable desease for perhaps 50% of patients, if the effects of ongoing trials at the Institut Gustav Roussy are substantiated.
This development signals positive hope for those who are diagnosed with advanced melanoma. Hitherto, the prognosis has been lamentably poor, with many patients dying within months of diagnosis.
The new cure under trial contains two types of drug which break down the defences of cancer cells. Clinicians are effectively rebooting a patient’s immune system by combining the two drugs. At present one in six patients are already being saved by the ground-breaking treatment and a new combination of drugs could mean more than half are cured of the melanoma which becomes deadly when it has spread and can no longer be surgically removed.
We asked Dr Ian Hampson, Head of the University of Manchester Viral Oncology Laboratories and patron of Caring Cancer Trust for his comments on this news.
He said: “It has been known for many years that tumours suppress the potential of the immune system to combat the developing malignancy. We are now just learning how we can reactivate the immune system to attack the tumour, as in these trials, and there are now drugs that can overcome the ability of tumours to deactivate our immune response. When combined with other types of therapy, these agents may be effective for many types of cancer, which brings us ever closer to developing the elusive cure for cancer.”