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Local medical breakthrough could change how cancer is treated

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: May 22 2014 05:08:18 PM CDT
Updated On: May 22 2014 06:08:39 PM CDT

A medical breakthrough could change the way cancer is treated and up your odds of survival.

A medical breakthrough could change the way cancer is treated and up your odds of survival.

A clinical study done at Lehigh Valley Health Network found a way to use the body to kill cancer.

Lehigh Valley Health Network is among ten top notch hospitals across the country using two experimental drugs in breakthrough clinical trials.

The drugs, Nivolumab and Ipilimumab, boosted patients' immune systems, making them powerful enough to attack and kill stage four melanoma.

"The results have been amazing. We had a 28 year-old woman melanoma to brain, liver and lung is completely cancer totally symptom free," said Dr. Suresh Nair, LVHN Senior Medical Director of Academic Oncolcogy.

Several patients from the trials shared emotional stories about their treatment at a news conference at LVHN.

Their words offering hope for the future.

"The fact that this is now working in five different types of cancers, it's working in kidney cancer, Hodgkins disease, bladder cancer in addition to lung cancer and melanoma really raises hope that immune treatments may become more important than advanced cancer," said Nair.

Six trials with the drugs have been completed at LVHN.

A similar compassionate use study open to other cancer patients starts next month.

"Compassionate care means it has not been approved by the food and drug administration yet but the results have been so good in the clinical trials that it's recognized that it benefits a significant number of patients," said LVHN president and CEO Ron Swinfard.

Nair says FDA approval is months away, and soon the drugs could go from experimental to standard practice.

He says the most important way to fight melanoma is to try to prevent it by wearing sunscreen.