On September 28, 2018, the FDA approved the immunotherapy cemiplimab (Libtayo) for the treatment of patients with metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) as well as patients with locally advanced CSCC for whom surgery or radiation is not applicable. This was a landmark event as there were previously no approved treatment options for this advanced skin cancer. Several other promising immunotherapies are currently in clinical trials, providing hope to patients with skin cancers that have progressed to later stages of disease.
This May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we look at the changing treatment landscape, new scientific research, and how we’re working toward a future immune to skin cancer.
Breakthrough Skin Cancer Treatments
At the CRI Immunotherapy Patient Summit in Baltimore last year, Suzanne Topalian, M.D., the director of the melanoma research program in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, emphasized the 10-fold increase in survival of patients with advanced melanoma in the last 10 years and discussed more recent work to improve outcomes for even more patients.
Skin Cancer Patient Story
Concerned about his future and having exhausted standard treatment options for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, Dale enrolled in a clinical trial testing a PD-1 blocking antibody called cemiplimab. The drug eliminated all the tumors on the outside of his head in about six weeks. Today, he has no evidence of cancer and is able to enjoy life with his wife, Donna, and two children.
Skin Cancer Researcher
To better understand the microbiome’s impact in cancer metastasis, CRI Fellow Michel Enamorado, Ph.D., is using newly generated tools to track T cell responses to a normally beneficial skin bacterium. He aims to determine how those responses are associated with the ability of cancer cells to escape the primary tumor site as well as form new tumors at distant sites.
Learn about Dr. Enamorado's skin microbiome research
Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer Information Updated
More people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined, with roughly 5.3 million new cases each year according to the most recent estimate. Fortunately, skin cancer is commonly diagnosed at an early stage when it can be dealt with more effectively. Only a small fraction—roughly 1 to 2 of every 500 cases—prove fatal. Immunotherapy for skin cancer provides treatment options for patients with advanced cases.
VIEW Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer UPDATE
Find a Skin Cancer Clinical Trial
A variety of new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments are only available to patients in clinical trials. Our Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder will match you to trials for which you may be eligible, and you can help speed the development of potentially lifesaving drugs for yourself and others.
FIND A Cancer CLinical TRIAL
Support Skin Cancer Research
The CRI Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator is funding a clinical trial that seeks to bolster a combination immunotherapy of PD-L1 and CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors through the use of an adjuvant designed to activate innate immune responses in advanced skin cancer and other advanced cancers. The trial opened in 2016 and is currently enrolling new patients. This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, support lifesaving cancer immunotherapy research.
Donate to skin cancer research