Melanoma drug trials 'a game-changer' in stopping cancer spread

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1 NEWS

New international research has been labelled a game-changer in efforts to stop the spread of melanoma.

Early results from the Australian-led trials shows the spread of cancer in some high-risk patients can be cut in half.
Source: 1 NEWS

Early results from the Australian-led trials shows the spread of cancer in some high-risk patients can be cut in half.

Currently more than 50 per cent of patients who have deadly stage 3 melanoma removed will see it return and spread, usually to the lungs, liver, bones or brain. 

The 12-month trials - one using combined drugs, the other intravenous immune therapy - have been a huge success.

"We can now effectively stop it in its tracks, prevent it from spreading to distant sites," said Professor Richard Scolyer of the Melanoma Institute Australia.

Renae Aslanis has been given a second chance. Diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in the hip and groin four years ago, she took part in the international clinical trial led by researchers at the Melanoma Institute Australia. 

"No evidence of disease, no recurrence since, and slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things," she said.

"I'm extremely grateful."

Professor Georgina Long of the institute said: "This is an absolute game changer for the treatment for high-risk, early-stage melanoma." 

The Cancer Society of New Zealand is cautiously welcoming these early first trial results. 

And it says with 360 people dying of melanoma here each year, these drugs have the potential to help save 70 lives. 

The cancer society is renewing calls for improvements to Pharmac's funding processes. 

And with summer fast approaching, there are reminders on both sides of the Tasman to be safe in the sun.

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