Immunotherapy: Hope for Patients with Metastatic Melanoma

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As medical oncologist Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan Kettering explains, clinical research has led to the development of two new medications that give people with metastatic melanoma a fighting chance. These checkpoint blockade therapies — better known as ipilimumab (Yervoy®) and nivolumab (Opdivo®) — take the molecular brakes off of the immune system so that it can attack melanoma cells throughout the body.

But while each of these medications is effective on its own, Dr. Wolchok and his colleagues wondered if combining these powerful drugs might provide the one-two punch needed to beat back metastatic melanoma, which is extremely difficult to treat.

When Karen’s melanoma came roaring back after her initial treatment, Wolchok suggested that she take part in a clinical trial to study the combination therapy. The clinical trial offered Karen the best chance for survivaland the potential to help others with metastatic melanoma. She has been cancer free for nearly two years.