Australian researchers say they can stop melanoma spreading

September 11, 2017

Melanoma in skin biopsy with H&E stain — this case may represent superficial spreading melanoma. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
Researchers say a combination of new treatments can stop the world's deadliest form of skin cancer—melanoma—in its tracks and halt its spread to other organs.

Results from two international drug conducted by the Sydney-based Melanoma Institute Australia have proved successful in preventing the disease spreading in stage three patients whose tumours had been surgically removed.

Until now, these patients were at a high risk (40 to 70 percent) of the disease becoming advanced and fatal.

"Results from these suggest we can stop the disease in its tracks—effectively preventing it from spreading and saving lives," the institute's medical director Georgina Long said in research published in the New England Journal of Medicine Monday.

"Our ultimate goal of making a chronic rather than a terminal illness is now so much closer to being achieved."

One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin , according to the World Health Organisation, with Australia having among the highest incidences of melanoma in the world. One Australian dies from it every five hours.

While 90 percent of people can be cured by having the primary cancer removed through surgery, it spreads in the other 10 percent because it is detected too late.

"These results will change the way we treat melanoma patients as well as their quality of life," added Long.

"Until now, Stage III melanoma patients who have had their tumours surgically removed have simply had to play the waiting game, to see if their melanoma would metastasise or spread.

"Living with such fear severely affected them and their loved ones."

The researchers conducted two 12-month trials, one immunotherapy-based and the other with targeted therapies. Both proved successful in preventing the disease spreading.

In one of them, targeted therapies (dabrafenib and trametinib) blocked the action of a particular gene, BRAF, which is a driver for melanoma.

It not only stopped stage three melanoma from recurring in those with tumours removed, but increased overall survival, the research showed.

The other trial treated with the immunotherapy nivolumab or ipilimumab—designed to reboot the immune system to attack . Results showed nivolumab decreased the chance of relapse.

"These clinical trials show we now have ammunition to prevent melanoma spreading and progressing, which until now was a critical area of behaviour where we had no control," said Long.

"This will change how melanoma is treated around the world, as we no longer have to passively wait to see if the melanoma spreads."

The clinical trial results are due to be presented to the European Society for Medical Oncology's annual congress in Spain this week.

Explore further: Combined immunotherapy could help control melanoma that has spread to the brain

More information: 1. Long G.V, et al. Adjuvant Dabrafenib Plus Trametinib for Stage III BRAF-Mutated Melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine.

2. Weber, J. et al. Adjuvant Nivolumab Versus Ipilimumab in Resected Stage III or IV Melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine.

Press release: phys.org/wire-news/266555381/a … s-tracks.html#ajTabs

Related Stories

Combined immunotherapy could help control melanoma that has spread to the brain

June 5, 2017
A combination of two immunotherapy drugs is safe to give to patients with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, that has spread to the brain, and could help control the disease.

Vitamin therapy may help prevent melanoma

August 9, 2017
A new review highlights the potential of nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) for preventing melanoma in high-risk individuals.

Surgery may be best for advanced melanoma

April 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—Surgery to remove melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—can extend the lives of patients whose disease has spread to the abdomen area, new research suggests.

New drug shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients

May 21, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Australian researchers have reported promising results with a new drug that shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients. Their findings are published in The Lancet medical journal today.

New therapies harness power of the immune system against cancer

June 2, 2014
New research on innovative immunotherapies for advanced or high-risk melanoma and cervical cancer were presented today at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). These treatments – used ...

Researchers find immunotherapy treatments better for advanced skin cancer

November 4, 2016
McMaster University researchers have found that for patients diagnosed in the late stages of one of the most common and deadly forms of skin cancer, treatment with a combination of immunotherapy options improves survival ...

Recommended for you

From the ashes of a failed pain drug, a new therapeutic path emerges

November 16, 2018
In 2013, renowned Boston Children's Hospital pain researcher Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D., and chemist Kai Johnsson, Ph.D., his fellow co-founder at Quartet Medicine, believed they held the key to non-narcotic pain relief. ...

Repurposing FDA-approved drugs can help fight back breast cancer

November 16, 2018
Screening Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compounds for their ability to stop cancer growth in the lab led to the finding that the drug flunarizine can slow down the growth of triple-negative breast cancer in ...

Traditional chemotherapy superior to new alternative for oropharyngeal cancers

November 16, 2018
A drug increasingly used in combination with radiotherapy to treat a type of cancer that forms in the tonsils or the base of the tongue is inferior to a previously favored option, according to a large, clinical trial led ...

New 'SLICE' tool can massively expand immune system's cancer-fighting repertoire

November 15, 2018
Immunotherapy can cure some cancers that until fairly recently were considered fatal. In addition to developing drugs that boost the immune system's cancer-fighting abilities, scientists are becoming expert at manipulating ...

Anti-malaria drugs have shown promise in treating cancer, and now researchers know why

November 15, 2018
Anti-malaria drugs known as chloroquines have been repurposed to treat cancer for decades, but until now no one knew exactly what the chloroquines were targeting when they attack a tumor. Now, researchers from the Abramson ...

Standard chemotherapy treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer remains the most effective, study finds

November 15, 2018
A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the University of Birmingham has found that the standard chemotherapy used to treat a specific type of throat cancer remains the most effective.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.