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Skin cancer treatment: biggest breakthrough in 30 years

June 7, 2011

Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and colleagues have shown that vemurafenib outperforms the most common chemotherapy drug for metastatic melanoma, dacarbazine.

The researchers compared the drugs on 672 patients with late stage, inoperable melanoma. They found that 48 per cent of those receiving vemurafenib responded to the treatment, while only 5 per cent of patients responded to dacarbazine. At 6 months, survival was 84 per cent in the group taking vemurafenib compared to 64 per cent taking dacarbazine.

Researchers at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute in France have discovered even more encouraging results by combining dacarbazine with ipilumumab (an antibody that works by boosting the immune system’s response to a tumor).

The French team found that 28.5 per cent of the 250 patients who received combination therapy survived for two years — a marked improvement on the 17.9 per cent of those taking dacarbazine alone.

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