Immunotherapy Fact of the Day #20

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“[After immunotherapy] … they didn’t find any cancer at all.”

In August 2015, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter announced that his melanoma had spread to his liver and his brain. Several years ago, metastatic melanoma like Carter's would have been untreatable­. Fortunately, Carter’s doctors used a relatively new approach that combined immunotherapy and radiation.

First, doctors bombarded his tumors with radiation. The damaged and dying cancer cells likely attracted the attention of immune cells. Then, he received pembrolizumab, an anti-PD-1 checkpoint immunotherapy, to support his immune system’s response and help it to completely eliminate the cancer.

In December, three months after Carter first began receiving immunotherapy, the then-91-year old found out that his tumors were gone. Just as immunotherapy can help children with cancer, stories like Carter’s reveal that immunotherapy can also help older patients.

The following CRI-funded scientists are evaluating the clinical benefits of other combination approaches that utilize immunotherapy:

Image credit: Creative Commons (via Commonwealth Club)

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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