Skin Cancer Treatments Having a "Renaissance"
Skin cancer treatment received two more options Sunday when doctors reported on the developments behind two new studies.
In the first study, an experimental drug called vemurafenib, which targets a gene mutation found in about half of all melanomas, was so effective in patients with advanced cancer that those getting a comparison drug were allowed to switch after just a few months. Vemurafenib is being developed by Genentech, part of Swiss-based Roche, and Plexxikon Inc., part of the Daiichi Sankyo Group of Japan.
The second study focused on Briston-Myers Squibb Co.'s Yervoy, a recently-approved medication for early-stage melanoma patients--it was found to double the number of patients that survived at least three years.
"Melanoma has just seen a renaissance of new agents," and more are being tested, Dr. Allen Lichter, chief executive of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, told the Associated Press.
"This is really an unprecedented time of celebration for our patients," Dr. Lynn Schucter, of the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center, told the AP.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there were 68,000 new cases and 8,700 deaths from the disease in the United States last year. Prior to Yervoy's approval in March, there had only been two drugs approved to treat the disease.