Life-extending treatment now an option for newly diagnosed metastatic melanoma patients

Melanoma treatment landscape looking better and brighter year after year

OAKVILLE, ON, Sept. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Melanoma is in the news again, and once again it's for a good reason. The Melanoma Network of Canada is very pleased with the recent Health Canada approval of Yervoy (ipilimumab), as a first option for treatment of patients newly diagnosed with metastatic disease. This means that for the first time, these patients can be treated with a proven life-extending treatment right away. This news follows a string of good news in the area of research and treatment advances for melanoma in the past few years.

"After so many years of having very few options that actually impact survival, there are a lot of good things happening for melanoma and having approval of Yervoy as an initial therapy for newly diagnosed patients is the latest.  It's very good news for those patients who, unfortunately, will receive this diagnosis in the future.  What's really positive is that many Yervoy-treated patients that we know of are living years longer," said Annette Cyr, Chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "This is such a hope-filled time because we know that there's even more good news coming soon.  As patients, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of other new treatments that activate the immune system and even combinations of therapies that have the potential to be game-changers.  It's very reassuring to know that melanoma is finally becoming a priority."

The metastatic melanoma treatment landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years. Until a few years ago this deadly cancer had a median overall survival rate of six to nine months.  New treatments have changed those statistics for the better; the outlook is improving.  Yervoy was the first treatment on the scene that works by stimulating the body's own immune system to fight the disease.   It was approved in 2012, but only for patients who could not tolerate or who had failed on other therapies.

"If you had asked me five years ago what it was like to treat patients with advanced melanoma, I would have told you that what we had available to us was not very encouraging.  Today, not only do we have options for our patients with what's already been approved but there are newer treatments on the horizon and the data that we've seen looks very promising," Added medical oncologist, Dr. Anthony Joshua. "The news about Yervoy will certainly impact the way we manage the newly diagnosed patient with this disease.  It has a good track record, and I can tell my patients that with confidence."

About Melanoma
Melanoma is one of the fastest-growing cancers worldwide, and can affect anyone regardless of sex, age or race. An estimated 6,500 cases will be diagnosed in Canada in 2014 and an estimated 1,050 will die from the disease. The incidence of melanoma has been increasing steadily for the past 30 years, and this increase is now second only to the rise in liver cancer.

About the Melanoma Network Canada (MNC)
Melanoma Network Canada (MNC) is a Canada's most recognized authority on melanoma for patients and their caregivers. MNC works in collaboration with medical professionals, health care agencies and other stakeholders to educate, advocate and fund for prevention and early diagnosis and effective treatment of melanoma. For information on melanoma or to get involved, please visit us at www.melanomanetwork.ca.

SOURCE: Melanoma Network of Canada

For further information: Annette Cyr, Chair, Melanoma Network of Canada, 905.901.5121 ext.101, acyr@melanomanetwork.ca

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www.melanomanetwork.ca

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