According to the results of a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the life expectancies of people with advanced melanoma may be doubled or even quadrupled, thanks to a new drug that harnesses the power of patients’ immune systems to fight their cancer.
The drug, nivolumab (Opdivo), slowed cancer progression in melanoma patients by more than double, compared with an earlier immunotherapy drug called ipilimumab (Yervoy).
What’s more, the delay in cancer progression nearly quadrupled when the two drugs were combined, compared with taking ipilimumab alone, the researchers said.
While the combination therapy came with greater side effects, which may limit treatment in frail patients, the researchers noted that no deaths occurred during the large-scale, international clinical trial.
According to study author Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the trial was conducted at 137 sites globally, and the safety guidelines that were in place were able to combat these side effects. Source: HealthDay Reporter; New England Journal of Medicine