Treatment: Drug offers ray of hope in melanoma fight

 Published: The Australian , 19/5/2012, page 12

A drug that prolongs survival for melanoma patients whose cancer has spread to the brain may be on the horizon after Australian researchers found it shrank such secondary brain tumours in 90 per cent of patients, and led to some tumours disappearing.

Despite the fact that half of patients whose brain tumours spread from a melanoma normally die within four months, all patients in the sub-group of the study looking at this type of cancer were still alive at five months, two were still alive after a year and one remained alive 19 months after diagnosis.

The findings have excited independent cancer experts as well as the authors of the study, published yesterday in British medical journal The Lancet, because there are few drug options for these patients.

Lead author of the study Georgina Long, a medical oncologist at the Melanoma Institute Australia and Sydney’s Westmead Hospital said,

“The results across all the patients in the study were phenomenal. until now there has not been a single drug that has shrunk brain metastases in more than 10 out of 100 patients with metastic melanoma”.