Cancer drug able to put melanoma in remission

4/21/2008

WASHINGTON Researchers from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston have revealed that the cancer drug Gleevec, used to treat metastatic melanoma, was able to force the cancer into remission for the first time.

The case in which the remission was documented was published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and involved a 79 year-old woman who experienced a reduction in tumor size after four weeks of therapy, and then as 4 months passed there was still no growth. Nine months after beginning the treatment, the drug made her condition stable, according to published reports.

Dr. Stephen Hodi, author of the study stated, "This is the first proof of principle that we can find an Achilles' heel in melanoma and by targeting that gene with a drug, cause the [tumor cells] to die. It is especially exciting because there haven't been any effective treatments for melanoma patients with metastatic disease.”

Even though researchers acknowledge that the case only involved one patient it gives hope that there is a way to stop melanoma cell growth. This one instance showcases that there is a possibility for effective treatment for melanoma in the future.

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