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Thursday's Health Report: New immunotherapy treatment could help extend lives of melanoma patients

1 month 1 day 54 minutes ago Thursday, May 16 2024 May 16, 2024 May 16, 2024 5:47 PM May 16, 2024 in Health
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Melanoma is considered the deadliest of all skin cancers.

But a new FDA approved immunotherapy could help extend lives.

"This is the first of its kind personalized immunotherapy for patients with melanoma who've progressed on prior therapies. It is very unique because it's a treatment that's made by directly from patients own tumors," said Thach-Giao Truong, a Cleveland-based oncologist.

The single-dose immunotherapy is currently approved for those with advanced stage IV melanoma who have not had success with other treatments. 

The process works by surgically removing a piece of the patient's tumor and then identifying specific cancer-fighting immune cells from it. From there, the cells are multiplied and reinfused through an IV. By doing this, the patient's own immune cells can identify and fight the cancer. 

Doctors say immunotherapy-based treatments are very effective.

"Today, we know that if you get a response, you know on treatment, we'll see that relatively early in the first few months, you know that you have a very great chance of being one of those 80 percent at eight years, think about that. And in just a short while, the survival from melanoma since the advent of immunotherapy, you know, it's now at 5 years, more than half of people remain alive with stage 4 disease," Truong said.

Data shows people who respond to initial treatment continue to do well off medication.

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