Nivolumab Extends Life in Melanoma Patients in Early Trial

An experimental immunotherapy drug called nivolumab may increase survival in people with melanomas that have spread. Nivolumab blocks a protein called PD-1, which lets tumor cells evade the immune system. In a phase I trial of melanoma patients who had not responded to previous treatments, researchers found tumors shrank in 41% of those given the highest dose of nivolumab (3 mg/kg). Overall, 62% survived to 1 year and 43% survived to 2 years and only 2% had severe side effects. Nivolumab is currently being tested in three phase III trials. These findings were among several advances in immunotherapy treatments for melanoma presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2013 meeting.


Blood Test May Predict How Long People with Melanoma Will Live

Melanoma rates are climbing worldwide, intensifying the urgency to find biomarkers that will help doctors optimize treatment. New research suggests that a simple blood test may detect a biomarker of survival in people with melanoma. The researchers counted tumor cells in blood samples from 101 people with melanomas that had spread and found that those with fewer tumor cells in their blood lived longer. When people had under two tumor cells per 7.5 mL of blood, they survived on average more than twice as long as those with two or more tumor cells per 7.5 mL of blood (7.2 vs 2.6 months). The researchers reported this finding in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and recommend larger studies to confirm their work.


U.S. Cancer Survivors Projected to Jump 30% over Next Decade

The number of cancer survivors in the U.S. will rise from 13.7 million today to 18.0 million in 2022, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. This increase will be driven by the aging population, with two-thirds of cancer survivors being age 65 years or older within 10 years. Today, women with breast cancer account for about one-fifth of survivors and men with prostate cancer account for another one-fifth, reflecting strides in diagnosis and treatment. Five-year survival rates are now nearly 89% for breast cancer and nearly 100% for prostate cancer. However, people with lung cancer account for just 3% of today’s survivors, underscoring the need for better ways of diagnosing and treating this illness.


U.S. Cancer Survivors Projected to Jump 30% over Next Decade

The number of cancer survivors in the U.S. will rise from 13.7 million today to 18.0 million in 2022, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. This increase will be driven by the aging population, with two-thirds of cancer survivors being age 65 years or older within 10 years. Today, women with breast cancer account for about one-fifth of survivors and men with prostate cancer account for another one-fifth, reflecting strides in diagnosis and treatment. Five-year survival rates are now nearly 89% for breast cancer and nearly 100% for prostate cancer. However, people with lung cancer account for just 3% of today’s survivors, underscoring the need for better ways of diagnosing and treating this illness.