Treatment keeps disease at bay for six months
A new drug has been shown to be effective against advanced melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, which is on the rise in Britain.
Melanoma, which starts as a blemish or change to a mole on the skin, is treatable in its early stages but once it has spread to other organs there are no treatment options. If it spreads patients usually die within months.
In the UK, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma has exceeded 10,000 annually for the first time. In the first trial in human beings of the new drug, known only by its code name PLX4032, those treated lived on average for six months without their disease getting worse.
The results of the drugs trial were presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology yesterday.
Keith Flaherty, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania who led the trial, said: ‘We are especially excited for our melanoma patients for whom there are few treatment options.’
The drug is at the forefront of an increasing number of drugs tailored to the genetic make-up of individual cancers, so that treatment can be personalised for each patient, not just based on where they live or what stage their cancer is at.