For the first time in thirteen years the Federal Drug Administration approved a new drug, Yervoy, that has been shown to extend the survival rate in patients with late-stage melanoma!  Yervoy, also known as ipilimumab was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The “yes” was given on March 25, 2011 after the results of  an international study of 676 end-stage melanoma patients was received. The study showed that Yervoy increased the survival rate of melanoma patients from six months to ten months. Also, those given the drug were more likey to be alive after two years. The way Yervoy works is that is blocks a molecule that hinders the body’s ability to fight the cancer cells. Once the molecule is blocked the body’s immune system can mobilize to destroy the cancer. Even though this drug seems like a saving grace there are some brutal side-effects to take into account. Thirteen percent of the patients that received Yervoy experienced severe to fatal auto-immune reactions, fatigue, diarrhea, skin rash and intestinal inflammation.

Director of the Melanoma Research Foundation, Tim Turnham, gave his thoughts on the new breakthrough by saying,

“This is a critical breakthrough for advanced-stage melanoma patients who have far too few approved treatment options available,” said Timothy J. Turnham, the executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF).  “Patients have been waiting for a life-changing innovation like this one and news of the approval has galvanized the patient community.”

This drug will be used for those patients whose skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body and where all other treatment has failed. Hopefully, the increased survival rate will give those with late-stage melanoma more time with their families and their own life. End-stage melanoma is a tough bullet to bite. The people who have to endure this type of Melanoma are the strongest people in the world. The symptoms of late-stage melanoma are not a walk-in-the-park. Melanoma patients can endure weight loss; either due to loss of appetite from treatment or for no apparent reason. The second is Melanosis which is a graying of the patients skin caused by the presence of single cell cancers that have metastasized in the skin. The last is Metastasis where the cancer begins to spread to other parts of the body like the lymph nodes, skin, liver, brain and lungs.

Melanoma isn’t something anyone wants to face alone, or has to. You can find links to websites and blogs that discuss melanoma right here on the UV Skinz blog. I also just discovered these website you can also visit The Cancer Forums, Cure and Melanoma Missionary blog  for support, answers to questions or just to know that you aren’t the only one.

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 Source of Melanoma Symptoms: