Dr. Steven O’Day, Director of the Melanoma Program at the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, shares information about a new drug for melanoma currently under review by the FDA.
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Male Speaker: Even with all the warnings, many of us never thinks skin cancer will happen to us. Well Dr. Steven O'Day is the Director of the Melanoma Program at the Angeles Clinic and you have been working on some really exciting research, tell us about it. Dr. Steven O'Day: So as you talked about Melanoma is the most deadly of the skin cancers really the other skin cancers rarely cause a problem but Melanoma can spread very quickly to the internal organs even when you have removed it surgically and it could be months or years later. So once that happens that's called Stage Four Melanoma and traditionally, we have had no ability to really impact survival which has been on average about 6 to 12 months and these are people in the prime of their lives on average 40 to 50 years of age. So we really had no treatment. Recently we have been working across the world, Melanoma scientists have been working with a new drug that doesn't attack the Melanoma per se, but attacks T cells and turn them on and this new drug turns these T cells in to super T cells that then go out and kill the Melanoma. Male Speaker: So you are basically teaching the body to kill the cancerous cells and we are very lucky today because we have a patient of Dr. O'Day here, who has been through this treatment, Rick thank you for being here, you look fantastic. Tell us a little bit about your experience. Rick: My story began a couple of years ago when I had a mild itch on my back, turn out to be a cancerous mole, so we have that removed and sort of aggressively took out some lymph nodes to assure myself and my wife that it hadn't spread and it hadn't, but then a year and a half later, it came back in my lymph nodes under my arm. We tried to treat it as aggressively as possible but within a couple of months it had spread to stage 4. We had used chemotherapy and surgery and some other conventional treatments but none of those proved successful and that's when I came across Dr. O'Day. My wife had done some research online and we had asked my other physicians and his name kept coming up so we started this treatment. Dr. Steven O'Day: So this drug is called Ipilimumab or Ipi for short as we call it and its an intravenous medicine that we give to patients not in the hospital but in our clinics once every three weeks for four treatments and then eventually about 12 weeks into the treatment all of the sudden his tumor started shrinking and eventually completely went away and he had all his internal tumor removed. Male Speaker: So his tumor has gone away. Dr. Steven O'Day: His immune system eradicated the Melanoma. Male Speaker: So just to put this in perspective before the mortality rate of stage four Melanoma? Dr. Steven O'Day: 6 to 12 months, I want to emphasize this does not work on everybody in this way but certainly in 20-30% of patients that we give this to with widespread Melanoma, we can control the disease not necessarily make it completely go away, but they are surviving much longer than we would have anticipated and obviously that's a start. Male Speaker2: Amazing work. Male Speaker3: Yeah this is one of the most exciting things in cancer treatment. Male Speaker2: When do you think this may be available? Dr. Steven O'Day: Well it's being studied, but the interesting thing is it's not just Melanoma, we have sort of thought Melanoma was one of the only cancers that the immune system can really effect, but we have also studied this drug now in lung cancer and prostate cancer, preliminary with some exciting data. So this may be a new treatment not just for Melanoma but some other cancers which would be great. Male Speaker: Well Rick thank you for sharing this.
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