This particular treatment helps patients fight melanoma by enabling their own antibodies to attack cancer cells.
“When immunotherapy came on the market, it was such an exciting time for everyone involved in the care of melanoma, the main reason being is it went from this scary unmanageable cancer with no treatments to one that could potentially have a long lasting result with patients absolutely never having to worry about their melanoma,” explains Dr. Cecilia Larocca, a dermatologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
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While it was first created with stage four patients in mind, immunotherapy might be used earlier in the course of melanoma, as well. There’s also an immunotherapy cream, Imiquimod (Aldara), which is used for melanoma in situ—stage 0 disease.
FDA-Approved Immunotherapy for Melanoma
There are several FDA-approved immunotherapies for melanoma. Each is approved for certain instances of melanoma.
- Tebentafusp-tebn (Kimmtrak)
- Aldesleukin (Proleukin)
- Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)
- Dostarlimab (Jemperli)
- Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)
- Ipilimumab (Yervoy)
- Nivolumab (Opdivo)
- Peginterferon alfa-2b (Sylatron/PEG-Intron)
- Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
- Talimogene laherparepvec (Imlygic)
- Imiquimod (Aldara)
The goal is to keep steadily reducing the chance of recurrence in all patients. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people may not be candidates for this therapy, and side effects vary from person to person. What works for one person might not work for another, and researchers are continuing to study new and better ways to use immunotherapy to fight melanoma.