Long Term Benefits of Immunotherapy on Skin Cancer Revealed

A recent report of follow-up findings on participants in an international clinical trial which began in 2006 has shown that immunotherapy is beneficial to those with advanced melanoma.  The findings show that remissions can be long-lasting which is great news for people fighting against cancer.

Encouraging results

Following the long-term study, over 18% of those who participated were still alive after treatment with ipilimumab(Yervoy) in combination with a chemotherapy drug called dacarbazine.  Only 9% of those treated solely with chemotherapy survived. There were also very low rates of notable side effects among patients who used the drug in the long-term.

Ipilimumab is a cancer treatment that is designed to target the patient’s immune system.  It works by focusing on the molecule called CTLA-4 which is found on immune cells.  This effectively allows the immune cells to go into overdrive and try to defend the body against the invading cancer. Bristol-Myers-Squibb, the company who manufactures the drug, funded the study.


The findings of this long follow-up analysis study of the trial results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in June 2011.  In December 2012, ipilimumab received approval by NICE, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence and was then released for use by the NHS across the United Kingdom and latterly in Scotland.

Cancer immunotherapy experts welcomed the new figures.  It was known that some patients responded well to ipilimumab but it wasn’t proven that there were long term survival benefits until the follow-up study results were published.

In conclusion

There are exciting times ahead in the field of immunotherapy study.  Years of hard work are now beginning to show results and there are several new drugs under development.  The next task for experts will be working out just how to combine them, and who will benefit the most.

Image sourceCancer Research UK



Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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