Melanoma community encouraged by impressive survival rates with new wave of immuno-therapy innovation

New data presented at ASCO shows dramatic response rates

VANCOUVER, June 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Melanoma is in the spotlight again – and it's positive news. The Save Your Skin Foundation is very optimistic with the survival results the data showed at this year's meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The new data adds to the growing evidence that immunotherapy has the potential to transform survivability for melanoma patients. This dramatic survival rate the data is showing is remarkable because until recently a diagnosis of advanced melanoma was considered a near certain death sentence.

The melanoma buzz at ASCO was about the investigational PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors which are showing the potential for lasting effects, either alone or combination. The so-called PD-1 inhibitors are the new wave of innovation that is demonstrating high rates of survival that are measurable in years, which was unheard of for   patients with advanced melanoma before arrival of immunotherapy.

The focus of this year's annual cancer statistics published by the Canadian Cancer Society is melanoma, and with reason. This deadliest form of skin cancer is one of the fastest growing types of cancer in Canada. 6,500 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2014.

"The rising incidence of melanoma reminds us that continued research for this disease is critical. We've already seen great progress and the way we treat melanoma today has evolved with recent advances," Dr. Michael Smylie, an oncologist specializing in melanoma at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, "Immunotherapy has certainly changed the treatment landscape and the latest data presented at ASCO gives us a preview of the exciting new possibilities for our patients. The survival data we are seeing, particularly with immunotherapy-based combinations are very powerful. I no longer consider melanoma a death sentence for my patients and several of the drugs currently in late stages of development look very promising."

"I am very encouraged with the data I've seen presented at ASCO this year. Thanks to an immunotherapy treatment called Yervoy, I am a nine year survivor of melanoma. This was unheard of even just a decade ago. The wonderful thing is that I'm not alone," said Save Your Skin Foundation President and Founder, Kathy Barnard. "The drug companies are doing a great job at moving research forward.  I see patients all the time and being able to offer them hope through new treatments is critical to their survival."   

About Melanoma in Canada
Melanoma is one of the fastest rising of all cancers in Canada. An estimated 6,500 new cases of malignant melanoma are expected to be diagnosed in 2014. One in 59 men and 1 in 73 women are expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime. 90 per cent of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV light, including tanning beds. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, with 1,050 Canadians expected to die from it this year.

About the Save Your Skin Foundation
The Save Your Skin Foundation is a Canadian not-for-profit foundation. Through events and other initiatives, the Foundation focuses on: raising funds for education and awareness, providing emotional and financial support to those dealing with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and on supporting the ongoing research and treatment of skin cancer – especially melanoma.

For more information, please visit www.saveyourskin.ca.

SOURCE: Save Your Skin Foundation

For further information: Karran Finlay, Save Your Skin Foundation, T: 1-778-988-8194, kfm@saveyourskin.ca


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