New treatment reduces risk of death by melanoma

Melanoma is a difficult condition to grapple with, and unfortunately expensive to treat as well. Previously, using just one drug to combat the cancer was the only option, and is not always enough. In recent research trials however, it looks like combining two drugs may prove more effective.

In a randomized trial of 945 patients who had previously untreated melanoma underwent treatment over 11.5 months with two drugs: nivolumab and ipilimumab. After 9 months of follow-up, the risk of death was reduced by 58% with the combined drugs versus just 43% with only using ipilimumab.

Dr. Michael B. Atkins, deputy director of the Georgetown-Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, said the principal take-home message is that “Ipilimumab can no longer be considered as standard first-line immunotherapy for patients with advanced melanoma. This clearly has important implications for the field and for our patients.”

While this shows great strides in medicine and a step closer to increasing survival rates for melanoma, the downside is that the combination of drugs is quite expensive for most patients, that it makes appreciating this progress quite difficult. In time, I hope that either alternative methods prove equally effective at lower cost, or that the popularity of this form of treatment will encourage the cost of this treatment to decrease. In any case, it’s still encouraging to see a new way to lower the risk of death by melanoma, and I look forward to watching the developments of these new findings.

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