New Drug Treats Metastatic Skin Cancer
Early-stage skin cancer (melanoma) that is confined to a spot on the skin can be surgically removed and in most cases stopped. But if the cancer spreads, to other parts of the skin or to internal organs, melanoma is deadly. Chemotherapy drugs benefit fewer than 20 percent of such patients. Survival varies with the extent of the cancerâ€™s spread and the age of the patient, but it is usually measured in months, not years.
New research has found a new melanoma treatment drug goes beyond anything previously used. The new drug is called PLX4032. Tests in people whose melanoma had spread show the drug was able to shrink tumors in most patients and, in a few cases, even wiped the growths out, scientists report in the Aug. 26 New England Journal of Medicine. The compound targets the protein encoded by a mutated version of the BRAF gene that underlies melanoma in roughly half of all patients.