Immunotherapy for Melanoma
Melanoma is often treated with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to attack cancer. Most forms of immunotherapy for melanoma are still experimental, however, a drug called Yervoy (ipilimumab) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011.
Ipilimumab (Yervoy) was the first new drug to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating metastatic melanoma in over 14 years. Yervoy was trialed here at SCCA with promising results. Recently, Drs. Kim Margolin and David Byrd spoke with Patient Power about Yervoy. Also included in the webcast below is a conversation with Kathy Sparks, an SCCA patient who enrolled in a clinical trial for ipilimumab several years ago and benefitted from the drug.
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Other Immunotherapy Options
Interferon is often recommended after surgical removal of melanoma-containing lymph nodes or deep primary melanomas because it can reduce the chance of melanoma returning.
Interleukin-2 is sometimes administered to patients whose melanoma has spread but, due to the potential for severe side effects, its use is limited and must be discussed carefully with the doctor.
Many types of investigational immunotherapy are being offered at SCCA to select patients with melanoma. They include cancer vaccines, T-lymphocyte therapies and other types of immune-stimulating drugs related to interferon and interleukin.
To learn more about the various clinical trials for melanoma at SCCA, be sure to ask your doctor about studies that are currently recruiting patients.
A recent article worth reading on the Hutchinson Center website, The Power Within, by Ignacio Logos, provides an excellent overview on immunotherapy and its potential for fighting cancer.