By Diana Lomont, Editorial Contributor
Innovative new drug therapies are showing promise for curing patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. One such drug, Imylgic,® uses an engineered virus to shrink and destroy tumors while stimulating the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells elsewhere in the body.
Dr. Sajeve Thomas, Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, Melanoma and Sarcoma Center, has used Imylgic successfully with patients who have had melanoma recur following surgery. He also has seen major success using other immunotherapy drugs alone or in combination with radiation therapy.
“I’ve had patients experience complete remission with no sign of melanoma coming back after two years,” says Dr. Thomas. “Sometimes the response can be so quick that you see tumors start shrinking within days of starting therapy. Three or four years ago, we didn’t have these therapies.”
In addition to working with new immunotherapies, the cancer center expects to soon join a multi-center study that will replicate a patient’s immune system T cells by the billions and infuse them back into the patient. Early data suggest that this approach can lead to long-term remission even in melanoma patients who have tried other therapies.
This year an estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S., and more than 9,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Melanoma is very treatable if detected in its early stages. Warning signs include asymmetrical moles or lesions with a diameter greater than 6 millimeters. See your doctor for a diagnosis if you are concerned about any moles or lesions.
For more information, visit OrlandoHealthCancer.com or call 321.841.8470 to schedule an appointment.