A New Treatment For Melanoma Called RG7204

Patients with advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can live longer thanks to a brand new drug.

In recent clinical trials, researchers from Londons Royal Marsden Hospital said that the drug, known as RG7204 or PLX4032, is significantly more effective when compared with current treatments. The researchers said that for the first time theres a treatment that actually works for a majority of patients with advanced melanoma.

Skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found in this country each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for about 68,130 cases of skin cancer in 2010.

While melanoma is treatable if it is caught early, it is often diagnosed in its advanced stage, when most patients survive for only a few months. But this new drug offers real hope. It works by attacking a faulty gene, called BRAF, found in about half of all cases of the aggressive illness.

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. James Larkin, told reporters: This is an incredibly exciting breakthrough. Melanoma is a very difficult disease to treat, and with a growing incidence [of the illness] in younger people, the results of this trial are very encouraging.

The drug company that developed the medication, Roche, is so impressed with the studys results that it has ended its control group so that participants who had received a placebo are now being offered the opportunity to take the drug.Researchers say that the drug is suitable for about half of melanoma patients whose tumors carry the right mutation, with 80 percent of those patients responding to the new treatment.Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Relationship Repair.See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.
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