This medical health video looks into a way to target melanoma.
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Jennifer Matthews: Three years ago, Brett Smith found a lump under his arm. Doctors were concerned and removed the mass. Brett Smith: When I woke up from surgery, my wife and mother were standing there with a look of fear in their face, and an oncologist was standing there, saying, 'It tested positive for melanoma.' Jennifer Matthews: The 28-year-old tried several different treatments. They were unsuccessful, and his cancer spread. Brett Smith: Your life's totally hijacked. Jennifer Matthews: Then Brett found a clinical trial for a drug commonly called the bay drug. If given by itself, it has only minimal effects. But Doctor Keith Flaherty says when the bay drug is combined with chemotherapy, it hits melanoma hard. Dr. Keith Flaherty: Whereas melanoma cells historically have always been known to be very resistant to chemotherapy, when the pill is administered first, it lowers that resistance and allows the chemotherapy to be more effective. Jennifer Matthews: Most patients who were treated had at least some stabilization of their melanoma. Others, like Brett, actually had their tumors shrink. Brett Smith: The status right now would be there's no cancer in my body at all. Dr. Keith Flaherty: We were quite surprised in some ways. We didn't have a lot of reason to believe that the chemotherapy and the pill would have that type of interaction, but they clearly do. Jennifer Matthews: There's still a lot to be learned, such as how long lasting the effects will be and if patients need to take the pill for life. Dr. Keith Flaherty: I think the hope is to make this type of disease a chronic disease, not a fatal one. That's what I hope, at least. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.