Updated 12:55 PM EDT, Wed, Sep 22, 2021

Melanoma Skin Cancer Cure Found? 5 Things to Know About New Treatment

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News about immunotherapy as the new effective treatment for cancer spread worldwide Monday, after scientists hailed it as the most potent weapon against the fatal disease, a report from CNN revealed.

Two recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine solidify the idea of using immunotherapy as an effective treatment for cancer, after it fought and won the battle against the life-threatening cells.

Here are five things you should know about the cancer cure breakthrough:

1. The new treatment targets melanoma. Also known as cancer of the skin, it is one of the deadliest cancers worldwide because of its ability to spread to other parts of the body including the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, bone, and brain. 

2. According to Medical News Today, the new treatment entails the combination of a cancer medication, ipilimumab, and an immune therapy drug known as nivolumab.

The combination of the two medications was seen to have reduced the size of the tumor in nearly 60% of individuals who have been diagnosed with advanced melanoma, based on one of the studies which were presented during the 2015 American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.

3. Nivolumab is a medication which passed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is used to treat metastatic melanoma in patients who have developed irresponsiveness to ipilimumab and other medications. It has also been approved to be used as treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Nivolumab is considered a "checkpoint inhibitor" drug that works by blocking the PD-L1 and PD-1 proteins' activation, which aid cancer cells to evade the human body's immune cells. According to Dr. James Larkin, a combination of the two presents a chance for the immune system to react and destroy the tumors it initially did not recognize by providing two brakes rather than one.

4. While more tests need to be conducted, this discovery is seen by many scientists and cancer experts to be a more effective cancer treatment so much so that, according to some, it can even replace chemotherapy.

In chemotherapy treatments where cancer patients are subjected to docetaxel, the cancer returns and even becomes worse for some, not to mention its adverse effects. Meanwhile, a boosted immunotherapy treatment simply enhances the chances of the immune cells to combat the tumor by revealing its hiding places.

"I think we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way oncology is being treated. The potential for long-term survival, effective cure, is definitely there," Medical News Today quotes Prof. Roy Herbst, the chief of medical oncology of New Haven's Yale Cancer Center.

5. While effective, this treatment is seen to become very expensive, costing at least $200,000 per patient for those with advanced melanoma.

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