When talking or reading about cancer these days, immunotherapy seems to be the magic word.
When talking or reading about cancer these days, immunotherapy seems to be the magic word — and with good reason. Techniques for strengthening the body’s own immune response against cancer are continually emerging, and melanoma has been at the forefront of discovery in this area.
Within the past four years, four immunotherapies have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of advanced melanoma: Yervoy (ipilimumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab), which debilitate “checkpoints” that would otherwise prevent the immune system from fighting intruders at its most aggressive level, and Imlygic (T-Vec), a vaccine that delivers immunestimulating medicine via an oncolytic virus.
In our in-depth article about treatments in this special issue devoted exclusively to melanoma, we take a look not only at the immunotherapies already approved for patients with this disease, but also at those working their way through the clinic. One of the most exciting is adoptive cell therapy, in which the white blood cells from inside a patient’s tumor — which have the ability to fight the cancer – are harvested, multiplied in a lab, and then infused into the patient to do their work. It’s a technique that may eventually be able to help some of those with advanced melanoma who, despite the recent influx of new medications, continue to face challenges in beating their disease.
The article also explores targeted treatments for melanoma, another powerful group of tools against the disease.
Elsewhere in this issue, we share the bottom line on the prevention of melanoma: the importance of using sunscreens, which ones to use, and how. We offer a breadth of knowledge on how melanoma can be recognized and diagnosed; provide insights about how survivors of the disease can navigate both the physical and emotional scars of their experiences with melanoma; and share a brand-new source of potential help for struggling caregivers.
In recent years, melanoma treatment has simply been transformed by the rapid pace of scientific discovery, and patients need to be aware of the latest advances so they can discuss their options with their doctors. By closely exploring this disease from diagnosis through survivorship, we aim to give you clear, thorough and up-to-date information that will help you make informed choices during every aspect of the cancer journey.
As always, thank you for reading.
Mike Hennessy, Sr.Chairman and CEO