A cure for skin cancer

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Doctors announce historic breakthrough as ‘spectacular’ drugs bring hope to thousands

Scientists have developed breakthrough drugs that cure skin cancer.

The treatment is already having ‘spectacular’ effects in seriously ill melanoma patients – and could soon be used to defeat other types of cancer.

One scientist said it was ‘amazing’ that researchers could talk  of ‘using the C-word – cure’ for the first time, while another said trials among kidney and lung cancer patients are ‘very exciting’.

One in six patients ravaged by deadly skin cancer are already being cured by the drugs, the European Cancer Congress was told yesterday, with the possibility of more than half being saved with an new combination.

The astonishing development will save  the lives of thousands of patients with advanced melanoma, who usually die within months of being diagnosed. The new treatment, which will bring hope to  hundreds of thousands of people in Britain with terminal conditions, involves the combination of two  different types of drug that ‘reboot’ the immune system.

The first is ipilimumab – or ‘ipi’. According to research presented to the European congress in Amsterdam yesterday, 17 per cent of patients are cured by this drug alone.

But many more – perhaps more than half – could be ‘clinically cured’ by combining them with even newer drugs called anti-PD1s which break down cancer cells’ defences.

Professor Alexander Eggermont of the Institut Gustave Roussy in France said: ‘[Advanced] melanoma could become a curable disease for perhaps more than 50 per cent of patients within five to 10 years.’

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He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘If I’d made this bizarre prediction five years ago, people would have said I was mad. But it now looks like we are going to have control of advanced melanoma for years, in a substantial proportion of patients.’

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