There are different types of skin cancer but Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. According to figures, it kills more than 2,000 people in Britain each year. Although it comprises a very tiny percentage i.e. less than 5% of skin cancer cases but melanoma accounts for the great majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Over the past few years, different therapies and drugs have dramatically changed the landscape of skin cancer treatment.
Like any other type of skin cancer, treatment for melanoma also depends on the properties of the tumor as well as the stage at which the cancer is detected. At early stage, the tumor may be removed surgically. while at its advanced stage, the tumor is removed along with surrounding normal tissue and a sentinel lymph node. An extensive surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or radiation therapy can be included in the treatment, if a biopsy reveals that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes.
The main risk factor not only for melanoma but for all skin cancer is exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet light. More people develop skin cancer from tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Although it is often easier to detect Melanoma in its earlier stages, but it spreads to other parts of the body very quickly. In last few decades, there have been major advancements in treatments of all types of cancer. There are also major breakthroughs in skin cancer treatment.
Skin Cancer Treatment Breakthrough
In this article, you will find the advancements in skin cancer treatment in year 2015. The breakthroughs include different drugs, therapies and much more.
Skin Cancer Drugs
To fight with such an horrible disease and to prepare something fruitful, it can’t be done over night. It’s a long journey. Researchers are working hard and they are having the positive results. As FDA approved seven new drugs for the treatment of melanoma since 2011. These drugs include four immunotherapies and three targeted therapies given below:
The immunotherapy drugs are
- Ipilimumab (Yervoy®),
- Pembrolizumab (Keytruda®),
- Nivolumab (Opdivo®),
These three drugs are checkpoint inhibitors that make the immune system strong and enable it to fight cancer. When Iipilimumab was used alone, tumors stayed stable or shrunk in just 19% of cases for an average of 2.5 months. It targets a molecule known as CTLA4, which is found on the surface of T-cells and is thought to inhibit immune responses. By targeting this molecule, it may enhance the immune system’s response to tumor cells.
Professor Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center in the US, described the findings as astonishing and he is sure that immunotherapy could replace chemotherapy as the standard treatment for cancer within the next five years. These drugs are working in two ways around than one so the immune system is able to recognize tumors it wasn’t previously recognizing and react to that and destroy them.
Zelboraf is another breakthrough drug in skin cancer treatment, that is approved by FDA in year 2015. Patients with terminal metastatic melanoma, an advanced stage of melanoma in which it has spread to distant organs also, were treated orally with Zelboraf. This drug target common genetic mutations, such as the BRAF V600 mutation, found in a subset of melanoma patients. And the result was complete or partial tumor regression also called shrinking in 81 percent of patients.
Oncolytic Virus Therapies
This kind of therapy uses a modified virus that can cause tumor cells to destruct and generate a greater immune response against the cancer. In October 2015, the FDA approved the oncolytic virus therapy also termed as Talimogene laherparepvec and trade name Imlygic™. It is made for the treatment of stage III or IV melanoma that has relapsed after surgery.
The approval was based on the results of a large phase III trial. In that trial, 16% of patients treated with T-VEC had durable shrinkage of their tumors compared to 2% of those getting a control drug called GM-CSF.
Cancer vaccines are designed to increase the immune response against tumor-specific or tumor-associated antigens. These therapies are also considered as advance in terms of skin cancer treatment. They encourage the immune system to attack cancer cells bearing these antigens.
According to the experts view, the new treatments which use the body’s immune system to stall the spread of disease, could soon become the mainstream treatment for a wide range of cancers. The main reason of cancers development is the ability of cancerous cells to hide themselves from the immune system and disguise the danger they pose. But now with the help of Immunotherapy and other drugs, it become possible that immune system can allocate and stop the cancer cells to spread.