As recently as a decade ago, doctors had few new, promising treatments to offer to patients with advanced melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. But in the past five years, new therapies have been helping many patients live longer.Even as recently as three years ago, a diagnosis of advanced melanoma was akin to “a death sentence,” said Dr. Juliana Meyer, a surgeon with Franciscan St. Francis Health. The new treatments have changed that dramatically.“It’s not the scary disease it once was,” Meyer said.Melanoma has always been different from most cancers, which helped make it such a wily adversary. Doctors have long recognized that most patients with melanoma respond better to drugs that boost the immune system than they do to chemotherapy.Until recently, interferon and interleukin were patients’ best treatment options. In the past five years, however, the Food and Drug Administration has approved six new therapies for melanoma, said Anita Day, founder of Outrun the Sun, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that raises money for melanoma research.“That’s more than had been approved in the decades preceding this,” Day said. “This is a very exciting moment in the history of melanoma research.”Unlike traditional cancer treatments, the new drugs don’t try to… Read full this story
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