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Infecting Just One Tumor with a Virus Could Boost the Systemic Effectiveness of Cancer Immunotherapy

Infecting Just One Tumor with a Virus Could Boost the Systemic Effectiveness of Cancer Immunotherapy | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"A Ludwig Cancer Research study suggests that the clinical efficacy of checkpoint blockade, a powerful new strategy to harness the immune response to treat cancers, might be dramatically improved if combined with oncolytic virotherapy, an investigational intervention that employs viruses to destroy tumors.


"Published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the study evaluated a combination therapy in which the Newcastle disease virus (NDV), a bird virus not ordinarily harmful to humans, is injected directly into one of two melanoma tumors implanted in mice, followed by an antibody that essentially releases the brakes on the immune response. The researchers report that the combination induced a potent and systemically effective anti-tumor immune response that destroyed the non-infected tumor as well. Even tumor types that have hitherto proved resistant to checkpoint blockade and other immunotherapeutic strategies were susceptible to this combined therapy."


Editor's Note: This story is about research that was performed in mice. For that reason, we cannot say whether similar results would happen for humans. However, viruses like the one explored here are already being used in people. To learn more about immunotherapy—cancer treatments that use the immune system to fight tumors—visit our Melanoma Basics.

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Medical Xpress  |  Mar 5, 2014

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Palliative Chemotherapy: Harms and Benefits Weighed in New Study

"Palliative chemotherapy is treatment designed for terminal cancer patients to prolong survival and ease symptoms but not cure disease. Now, researchers have found that the therapy comes with certain harms, which they say need to be addressed...


"Overall, the team found that terminal cancer patients who receive chemotherapy during the last months of their lives are less likely to die where they wish and are more likely to undergo invasive medical procedures - including CPR and mechanical ventilation - than patients who did not receive the therapy."

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 5, 2014

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 5, 2014

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 5, 2014

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Hyperspectral Camera Shows Promising Results in Detection of Skin Cancer

Hyperspectral Camera Shows Promising Results in Detection of Skin Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"A lightweight, handheld, ultra-precision hyperspectral camera has been developed for the detection of skin cancers and their precursors. From the surface of the skin, the camera recognizes early stages of cancer that are invisible to the naked eye. The hand-held, mobile hyperspectral camera images the skin region in two seconds. The large field of view (12 cm2) enables the detection of large skin areas at once. The preliminary results are promising."

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 27, 2014

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Cancer Vaccine Could Use Immune System to Fight Tumors

Cancer Vaccine Could Use Immune System to Fight Tumors | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) and UC Cancer Institute researchers have found that a vaccine, targeting tumors that produce a certain protein and receptor responsible for communication between cells and the body's immune system, could initiate the immune response to fight cancer.


"These findings, published in the online edition of the journalGene Therapy, build on previously reported research and could lead to new treatments for cancer."


Editor's Note: This cancer vaccine (interleukin-15, or IL-15) is currently being given to patients in several clinical trials for several different types of cancer. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to learn more.

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 3, 2014

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 3, 2014

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Medical News Today  |  Mar 3, 2014

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New Treatment Proposed to Prevent Devastating Intestinal Inflammation in Cancer Patients

New Treatment Proposed to Prevent Devastating Intestinal Inflammation in Cancer Patients | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Experimental work pointing to a therapy for alleviating mucositis -- a common, severe side effect of chemotherapy and irradiation of cancer patients or patients prepared for bone marrow transplantation – has been achieved by an international team of researchers. Mucositis is a strong inflammatory reaction of the mucosal lining of the digestive system, particularly the gut. Mucositis is often a major reason for premature suspension of anti-cancer therapy. As of today, there has been no effective means of preventing mucositis or its treatment."

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 18, 2014 

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 18, 2014 

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 18, 2014 

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NICE Says No to First-Line Yervoy in Advanced Melanoma

NICE Says No to First-Line Yervoy in Advanced Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Patients with advanced skin cancer will be disappointed with news that cost regulators are planning to bar 'routine' first-line access to Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) on the National Health Service in England and Wales.


"The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidelines recommending that the skin cancer treatment only be used by the NHS for patients in clinical trials, because current evidence is lacking.


"The Institute has already endorsed Yervoy as a second-line treatment for advanced malignant melanoma, but says the evidence provided by B-MS fails to conclusively show the degree to which the drug can extend life in previously untreated patients when compared with current standard care."

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PharmaTimes  |  Feb 25, 2014

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Earlier Palliative Care Improves Quality of Life, Patient Satisfaction, Cancer Study Shows

"The impact of providing early outpatient palliative care versus standard oncology care in a wide range of advanced cancers indicate that earlier care improved quality of life and patient satisfaction, the first clinical study of its kind suggest. The findings demonstrate the benefits of cancer centers providing early specialized palliative care in outpatient clinics. To put the findings into practice, palliative care teams should be involved much earlier in the course of illness to provide collaborative care together with oncologists, says the lead researcher."

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 19, 2014

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 19, 2014

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 19, 2014

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The Number of Tumor Cells Spread to Sentinel Lymph Nodes Affects Melanoma Prognosis

The Number of Tumor Cells Spread to Sentinel Lymph Nodes Affects Melanoma Prognosis | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it
Cancer cell spread to the sentinel node -- the lymph node to which cancer cells are most likely to spread from a primary tumor -- is a risk factor for melanoma death. The prognosis of a patient largely depends on the number of disseminated cancer cells per million lymphocytes in the sentinel node. Even very low numbers were found to be predictive for reduced survival.
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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 18, 2014

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Researchers Intensify Efforts to Solve Mysteries of Exceptional Responders

Researchers Intensify Efforts to Solve Mysteries of Exceptional Responders | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Exceptional responders — those patients with cancer who demonstrate sustained benefit from a therapy on which almost all others fail — have been observed in clinical trials for decades.


“ 'This is the basis of the urban legend story that everyone has heard — someone was given 2 months to live, but was given a drug and had a miraculous recovery,' William C. Hahn, MD, PhD, chief of the division of molecular cellular oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told HemOnc Today.


"Because of recent strides in genomic sequencing, however, the phenomenon has evolved from a series of unexplained individual success stories into a collection of tremendously valuable case studies."

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HemOnc Today  |  Jan 25, 2014

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HemOnc Today  |  Jan 25, 2014

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HemOnc Today  |  Jan 25, 2014

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Cancer Doctors Have Opportunities to Cut Costs Without Risk to Patients, Experts Say

Cancer Doctors Have Opportunities to Cut Costs Without Risk to Patients, Experts Say | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"In a review article published Feb. 14 in The Lancet Oncology, Johns Hopkins experts identify three major sources of high cancer costs and argue that cancer doctors can likely reduce them without harm to patients. The cost-cutting proposals call for changes in routine clinical practice involved in end-of-life care, medical imaging and drug pricing.


" 'We need to find the best ways to manage costs effectively while maintaining the same, if not better, quality of life among our patients,' says Thomas Smith, M.D., The Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Medicine and professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins."

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Medical Xpress  |  Feb 14, 2014

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Medical Xpress  |  Feb 14, 2014

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Medical Xpress  |  Feb 14, 2014

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Biopsy Staging Ups Survival in Melanoma

Biopsy Staging Ups Survival in Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Biopsy-based staging of thicker melanomas led to significantly better 10-year metastasis-free and disease-specific survival compared with wide excision and nodal observation, a randomized trial showed."

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MedPage Today  |  Feb 12, 2014

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Targeted Intervention Decreased Melanoma Risk, Increased Early Prevention

Targeted Intervention Decreased Melanoma Risk, Increased Early Prevention | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"A targeted screening and education strategy aimed at patients at high risk for melanoma favorably affected behaviors that may reduce melanoma risk compared with a standard information-based campaign, according to the results of a recent study published in Annals of Family Medicine.


"General practitioner counseling, combined with a skin examination and a self-assessment tool resulted in patients retaining information about melanoma risk factors and reducing high-risk behaviors."

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Cancer Network  |  Feb 7, 2014

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Vitamin C as Cancer Treatment? High Doses Boost Chemotherapy in Study

Vitamin C as Cancer Treatment? High Doses Boost Chemotherapy in Study | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Could pumping roughly 2,000 oranges' worth of vitamin C into a patient’s bloodstream boost the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs and mitigate the grueling side effects of chemotherapy?


"In research published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, scientists found that high doses of vitamin C – administered intravenously – increased the cancer-killing effects of chemotherapy drugs in mice, and blunted toxic side effects in humans.


"But even though the research seems to offer the promise of effectiveness for a new method of cancer treatment, vitamin C, or ascorbate, is unlikely to inspire the vigorous, and expensive, research necessary to become an approved tumor remedy, experts say."

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Los Angeles Times  |  Feb 5, 2014

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Los Angeles Times  |  Feb 5, 2014

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Los Angeles Times  |  Feb 5, 2014

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‘Real World’ Safety Study of Vemurafenib in BRAF V600–Mutated Metastatic Melanoma Shows Similar Safety Profile as Pivotal Trials

‘Real World’ Safety Study of Vemurafenib in BRAF V600–Mutated Metastatic Melanoma Shows Similar Safety Profile as Pivotal Trials | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"As reported in The Lancet Oncology by Larkin et al, interim results of a safety study designed to reflect the spectrum of patients encountered in routine practice suggest that vemurafenib (Zelboraf) has a safety profile in patients with BRAF V600–mutated metastatic melanoma similar to that observed in the more select patient population included in registration trials. The study included patients with limited treatment options and sizable proportions with brain metastases, elevated lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), poor performance status, and age ≥ 75 years."


Editor's Note: The important takeaway from this story is that the drug vemurafenib can be used safely and effectively in some melanoma patients with poor prognoses, who may not fit the profile of patients typically enrolled in clinical trials to test the drug. To learn more about clinical trials and "targeted therapies" like vemurafenib, visit our Melanoma Basics.

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The ASCO Post  |  Mar 5, 2014

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Experimental Drug Helps Body Fight Advanced Melanoma

Experimental Drug Helps Body Fight Advanced Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"An experimental drug that harnesses the power of the body's immune system to fight cancer has helped some patients with advanced melanoma keep their disease in check for several years, a new study indicates.


"Researchers think the drug, which is called nivolumab, may help reset the immune systemso that as a tumor adds new cells, the immune system is able to clear them away."


Editor's Note: The Medical Xpress article contains a misleading statement about Yervoy (ipilimumab). The article says, "up to 49 percent of patients were still alive after one year and up to 33 percent of patients were still alive two years after taking [Yervoy]." In fact, only about 10-20% of all patients who take Yervoy experience tumor shrinkage, and 49% of those are still alive after 1 year. The response rates to nivolumab are more promising.

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Medical Xpress  |  Mar 3, 2014

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Long-Term Study Confirms Success of Method for Detecting Spread of Deadly Skin Cancer

Long-Term Study Confirms Success of Method for Detecting Spread of Deadly Skin Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Research at UCLA on a technique for detecting the earliest spread of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has confirmed that the procedure significantly prolongs patients' survival rates compared with traditional "watch and wait" techniques.


"The technique, which combines lymphatic mapping and sentinel-node biopsy, allows doctors to quickly determine whether the disease has spread, or metastasized, to the lymph nodes, which occurs in approximately 20 percent of patients. Patients with cancer in their lymph nodes may benefit from having their other nearby lymph nodes removed. For the other approximately 80 percent of patients in whom the tumors have not spread to the lymph nodes, the technique spares the patient from unnecessary surgery and its associated complications and substantial costs."

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Medical Xpress  |  Mar 4, 2014

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Enhancement of Chemotherapy by Prevention of Tumor Cell Repair

"The body naturally tries to repair lesions in the DNA of tumor cells, and thus reduces the efficacy of chemotherapy. Blocking the mechanisms for DNA repair would help to potentiate chemotherapy by reducing the resistance of cells to treatment. A team of scientists has discovered a new drug that inhibits repair: spironolactone, which seems likely to be used in the very short term as an adjuvant to chemotherapy."

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 20, 2014

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 20, 2014

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Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues

Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than basing a patient's cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways, a new study indicates. "This paper argues for the importance of personalized medicine, where we treat each person by looking for the etiology of the disease in patients individually," said the lead author. "The findings have ramifications on how we might best optimize cancer treatments as we enter the era of targeted gene therapy."

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 24, 2014

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 24, 2014

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Blocking Autophagy with Malaria Drug May Help Overcome Resistance to Melanoma BRAF Drugs

Blocking Autophagy with Malaria Drug May Help Overcome Resistance to Melanoma BRAF Drugs | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Half of melanoma patients with the BRAF mutation have a positive response to treatment with BRAF inhibitors, but nearly all of those patients develop resistance to the drugs and experience disease progression.


"Now, a new preclinical study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from Penn Medicine researchers found that in many cases the root of the resistance may lie in a never-before-seen autophagy mechanism induced by the BRAF inhibitors vermurafenib and dabrafenib. Autophagy is a process by which cancer cells recycle essential building blocks to fuel further growth. Block this pathway with the antimalarial drug hydroxycholoroquine [sic] (HCQ), the authors found, and the BRAF inhibitors will be able to do their job better...


"Based on these promising preclinical results, Dr. Amaravadi and his team have already launched a clinical trial for patients with advanced BRAF mutant melanoma to see how well-tolerated HCQ is with the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. 'So far,' he said, 'we are seeing a benefit to patients and low toxicity.' "

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Medical Xpress  |  Feb 24, 2014

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Development of Diagnostic Tests for Targeted Therapies Faces Multiple Challenges

Targeted therapies are treatments aimed at specific biomarkers, such as genetic mutations, or overexpressed proteins. Tests that detect the targeted biomarker are needed to determine whether a patient would benefit from the treatment. The FDA offers an approval pathway for such tests, so-called “companion diagnostics” (CoDx), which requires that the test be evaluated alongside the drug in clinical trials. However, testing laboratories can also develop their own tests. These “laboratory-developed tests” (LDTs) are not currently regulated by the FDA. Development of LDTs is therefore much cheaper and faster (making CoDx comparatively less economically viable), but provides less evidence that these test are indeed effective. Moreover, LDTs can be designed to test for many different biomarkers, thus making more efficient use of limited biopsy tissue, while CoDx usually only test for the one biomarker relevant for their companion drug. A recent article calls for test developers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and the FDA to collaborate in resolving these issues.

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ScienceDaily  |  Feb 12, 2014

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New Therapies Targeting Cancer could Change Everything

New Therapies Targeting Cancer could Change Everything | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"In the summer of 2012, a year after his wife had died of lung cancer, Michael Harris scraped open an old mole on his back and it would not stop bleeding. The doctors said he had stage 4 melanoma, with a virtually inoperable tumor, and that patients in his condition typically lived about eight months. By last June, the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs.


"At that point Harris joined a clinical trial at Georgetown University, one of scores that have sprung up around the country to test a new class of cancer drugs called immune-checkpoint inhibitors. Two weeks after his first infusion, Harris’s primary tumor was fading, along with the black cancerous beads around it. A month later, his liver and lungs were clean."

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Washington Post  |  Feb 17, 2014

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People of Color Need Sun Protection to Avoid Skin Cancer

People of Color Need Sun Protection to Avoid Skin Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Although skin cancer is less prevalent among people of color than in whites, sun protection and other preventive measures are essential components of skin care in these populations, according to research published online Jan. 30 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology."

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Medical Xpress  |  Feb 14, 2014

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Anti-PD-1 Antibody MK-3475 Advances Into Multiple Tumor Types

Anti-PD-1 Antibody MK-3475 Advances Into Multiple Tumor Types | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Merck announced the signing of three separate clinical collaboration agreements to evaluate the potential of its investigational anti-PD-1 immunotherapy MK-3475 across multiple tumor types.  The agreements, of which financial terms were not disclosed, were signed through subsidiaries with Amgen Inc., Incyte Corporation, and Pfizer Inc.

"As part of the new collaborations, Merck will begin several clinical trials. In these phase I/II studies, MK-3475 will be explored in combination with axitinib in renal cell carcinoma, talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) in previously untreated advanced melanoma, the immunotherapy INCB24360 in previously treated metastatic recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and PF-2566 in multiple cancer types. Separate from these collaborations, Merck announced that the safety and efficacy of MK-3475 monotherapy would be evaluated in a phase I “signal finding” study in 20 PD-L1-positive solid tumor types not previously studied."

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OncLive  |  Feb 7, 2014

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OncLive  |  Feb 7, 2014

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OncLive  |  Feb 7, 2014

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Extended Follow-up in BRIM-3 Shows Prolonged Survival With Vemurafenib in BRAF V600E/K Mutation–Positive Melanoma

Extended Follow-up in BRIM-3 Shows Prolonged Survival With Vemurafenib in BRAF V600E/K Mutation–Positive Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"In the BRIM-3 trial, vemurafenib (Zelboraf) was associated with improved progression-free and overall survival vs dacarbazine in patients with advanced BRAF V600 mutation–positive melanoma. In an extended follow-up reported in The Lancet Oncology, McArthur et al found that superior survival outcomes were maintained and were present in both theBRAF V600E and BRAF V600K mutation subgroups."


Editor's note: Read more about vemurafenib here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a612009.html

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The ASCO Post  |  Feb 12, 2014

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Cancer Patients Diagnosed More Quickly

Cancer Patients Diagnosed More Quickly | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The time taken to diagnose some of the more common cancers – from the point when a patient first reports a possible symptom to their general practitioner (GP) – fell in adults by an average of five days in just under a decade, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer."


Editor's Note: In the study, time from first symptoms to cancer diagnosis fell from an average of 125 to 120 days in 7 years, for adults in the UK.

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Cancer Research UK  |  Feb 5, 2014

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Cancer Research UK  |  Feb 5, 2014

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Cancer Research UK  |  Feb 5, 2014