For patients with metastatic melanoma, treatment options are limited. But research into finding new medications and treatments continue. The following are some of the newest developments and studies on treatments for this disease.
- The medication Zelboraf was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August 2011 to treat metastatic melanoma. It helps to shrink tumors in patients with a BRAF mutation or approximately one half of those with this disease. Past research has shown this medication works better than chemotherapy. The most recent study, published in the Feb 23, 2012 New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients taking Zelboraf lived longer than those not taking it. According to the study, the median survival rate just about doubled. Researchers believe that this medication could change the way metastatic melanoma is treated in the future.
- A clinical trial using a combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes shows promise in treating metastatic melanoma according to a study which was published in Oct, 2012 in the Journal of Immunotherapy. There is a second level clinical trial scheduled.
- Dr. David Stern, a professor of pathology at Yale University School of Medicine, has been working on finding a new way to identify combinations of medications to help with melanomas. Dr. Stern and his colleagues have developed a n in vitro high-throughput screen where they can test different drugs, both along and in different combinations, on the three main types of melanoma cells. They analyzed over 150 single medications and 40 combinations, finding different combinations worked on different melanoma cells. Their research can be used to further test these combinations. Since they were testing drugs already on the market, treatments may be able to be developed earlier than if they were testing new drugs. Their approach to testing drug combinations can also be used to test treatments for other types of cancer, such as lung or pancreatic cancer.
Because the outlook for patients whose melanoma has metastasized and spread to different areas of the body is based on the stage of the cancer, early detection is important. But as the results of recent research show us, there is hope in finding, if not a cure, a way to manage the disease and gave patients a longer, fuller life.
"Newly Approved Drug for Metastatic Melanoma Nearly Doubles Median Survival," 2012, Feb 22, Staff Writer, Science Daily
"Potential Drug Combos Identified for Difficult-To-Treat Melanomas," 2012, Dec 18, Staff Writer, Medical News Today
"Researchers Study ‘ACT TIL’ Approach to Treating Metastatic Melanoma," 2012, Oct. 17, Staff Writer, Science Daily
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.