Thursday, August 14, 2008
Medical Reports: Skin Cancer Study
Most skin cancers are relatively easy to treat and cure, but if left undetected, melanoma can be deadly. Now a new study here in South Florida is giving patients hope. Seven's Diana Diaz has the story.
WSVN -- Like so many South Floridians, Mary Suppe loves spending time out in the sun, now with her three daughters and while she was growing up.
Mary Suppe: "That was the thing to do, go to the beach, get a sunburn, suntan, put on the baby oil."
About seven years ago, she noticed a mole on her side that looked suspicious.
Mary Suppe: "The edges became irregular, it was a little crusty, it was even bleeding a little bit. It just didn't look right, it didn't look right."
Mary was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which quickly spread to her brain and lungs.
Dr. Atif Hussein: "The problem is if melanoma, it goes undetected, and it spreads, then it becomes a difficult disease to treat and cure."
Mary went through two cycles of traditional chemotherapy, but nothing seemed to work.
Mary Suppe: "I felt like I was dying. I really felt like I was going to die."
Then she enrolled in a study at the Memorial Cancer Institute using a new treatment called targeted therapy.
Dr. Atif Hussein: "What we're hoping for is that the antibody itself does attack the targeted cells, meaning the bad cells, the melanoma cells, and spares those that are not affected or infected."
Mary had a 90-minute infusion every three weeks, and this new medication works by targeting only the cancer cells and not healthy tissue. She had fewer side effects than with regular chemo.
Stephen Gavin: "You don't get sick. I wasn't overly fatigued. I didn't lose my hair."
And, even more importantly, body scans show it's working.
Dr. Atif Hussein: "It allows the immune system to fight the melanoma and put some patients in either complete or partial remission."
Mary is now in the maintenance phase of the study and gets an infusion every 12 weeks. She knows the treatment is still considered experimental but is just grateful to be enjoying life again with her three daughters.
Mary Suppe: "Now I feel full of life and renewed of hope and ready to take on the world."
Diana Diaz: "The good news is this new treatment is being fast-tracked by the FDA for approval nationwide, but, remember, skin cancer prevention is key. Avoid the midday sun and wear a high SPF sunblock when you're outside."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Memorial Cancer Institute
1150 North 35th Ave.
Hollywood, FL 33021
Tel: (954) 265-6436