Immunotherapy drugs nivolumab or ipilimumab reboot the immune system to attack the melanoma cells and will reduce the chance of the cancer coming back from 50 per cent to 25 per cent (by the ipilimumab drug) and another 35 per cent (by nivolumab)," researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia have found.
The first trial required participants to take immunotherapy drugs nivolumab or ipilimumab for one year. Twelve months of these tablet therapies decreased the chance of the melanoma coming back - compared to doing nothing, our standard is chop it out and watch - by 53 per cent," Professor Georgina Long said. Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Professor Grant McArthur, executive director of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, described the studies as "extremely important" because melanoma has one of the hardest cancers to treat and chemotherapy had little impact. The trials were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies that produced the drugs.
The resilt of research became public on Monday at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2017 Congress in Spain. Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops from the pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes. In women they most commonly occur on the legs, while in men they are most common on the back. The primary cause of melanoma is ultraviolet light (UV) exposure in those with low levels of skin pigment. Those with many moles, a history of affected family members, and who have poor immune function are at greater risk.