A groundbreaking combination of skin cancer drugs that encourage the patient’s own immune system to destroy tumors is going to be made available by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales. According to the Guardian, this is one of the fastest ever trial-to-clinical use turnovers in the entire history of the NHS, and it will certainly give hope to those suffering from aggressive skin cancer across the country.
This treatment is part of a pioneering new form of chemotherapy known as “immunotherapy”, something which has been gaining traction among both monetary donors and medical researchers in recent years.
During the testing phase, these two immunotherapy drugs – known as ipilimumab and nivolumab – allowed 69 percent of patients with melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, to survive two years after their diagnosis. More than half of patients saw their tumors shrinking, and a fifth of them had no signs of melanoma at all.
Melanoma on human skin. D. Kucharski K. Kucharska/Shutterstock
A decade ago, those with advanced melanoma lived for an average of around nine months, so these drugs more than double the length of these patients’ lives. Far from just treating skin cancer, these drugs are now thought to be effective at treating many different types, and many trials all across the UK are currently underway.
One particular patient on these trials was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015. Peter Waite, 63, from Preston, England told BBC News that, after undergoing one of these trials, “there was a 30 percent reduction in the size of the tumors,” and that there has been no further tumor growth. He added that “the introduction of these drugs is going to bring a lot of hope to people and I'm totally positive and looking forward to watching my grandchildren grow up.”