Monday, August 24, 2015

Brain Cancer, Melanoma & U.S. President Jimmy Carter



I found this article by Kathleen Foody in Friday’s Chicago Tribune disturbing on a number of levels - http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-jimmy-carter-brain-cancer-20150820-story.html
 
The disturbing part is easy, ex-US President Jimmy Carter reported in a news conference late last week that “…doctors had removed melanoma from his liver, but found four small tumors in his brain. Later Thursday, he received radiation treatment. He also began receiving injections of a newly approved drug to help his immune system seek out and destroy the cancer cells wherever else they may appear.”


Bleakly, the cancer color for melanoma is black which, to my way of thinking, tells you all you need to know.

In fact, everything I know about melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is bad. I know that melanoma has killed a cousin of mine, and that it has tried to kill both me and another cousin. We’re the lucky ones because unless it’s caught early, melanoma can all too easily become a quick one-way trip to the grave.

An article I read on Medscape.com reported that, “The incidence of melanoma is on the rise and although melanoma currently accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers, it is responsible for 80% of all skin cancer deaths. Worldwide, the incidence of melanoma is roughly 200,000, leading to approximately 46,000 deaths. Compared with primary lung, breast, renal or colorectal cancer, melanoma has the highest propensity to metastasize to the brain: over one-third of patients with metastatic melanoma will eventually develop a clinically apparent brain metastasis.” Here’s a link to the article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/813109

According to the article, “His treatment regimen will include four injections of pembrolizumab, which was approved by the FDA for melanoma patients last year, at three-week intervals.”

If you, like me, couldn’t spell "pembrolizumab," let alone know what it is or does, here’s a link to a very recent article from The New England Journal of Medicine  which seems to indicate that the drug pembrolizumab is the current best weapon we have for fighting melanoma, wherever it is in the body: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1503093
 
John

PS - I added the italic to the Medscape quote to emphasize the deadliness of the disease.

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