Caused by UV rays from the sun, or a hereditary condition, Malignant Melanoma takes account of only 3% of all skin cancer cases, but is the most deadly.
With over 10,000 cases diagnosed every year in the UK, it is the second most common cancer in young adults, and twice as common in young women than young men.
Treatment is difficult, with there currently being no cure for this illness. There are however measures to contain or slow down the progression of the illness. These however, have varying degrees of success.
Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Surgery and now Immunotherapy are all used individually or in combination, depending on when the illness is detected and where the cancer is sited in the body.
June 2010 – Ipilimumab, an immunotherapy treatment, is a new and exciting development in the treatment of this disease. There are literally hundreds of articles about this Bristol Mayers Squibb drug which, following release of its Phase III trial results, is now applying for FDA approval in America, with the hope that it will become the front line treatment. We are so lucky that Elise will be the first person in the UK to recieve the treatment, now it has been made available once again.
Ipilimumab is a fully human antibody that binds to CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4), a molecule on T-cells that is believed to play a critical role in regulating natural immune responses. The absence or presence of CTLA-4 can augment or suppress the immune system’s T-cell response in fighting disease. Ipilimumab is designed to block the activity of CTLA-4, thereby sustaining an active immune response in its attack on cancer cells.
In a nutshell, the drug confuses the cancer cell’s, allowing the body’s own immune system to attack them.