Developing Hope for Those with Melanoma



Experiments that appear to be promising, are being conducted in the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah. Researchers there are using cells from the herpes virus, and inject them directly into melanoma tumors.

Once this is done, researchers say it boosts the immune system, and makes it stronger to be able to fight the cancer. Although the treatment is not perfect, as many as 60 percent of the patients have seen dramatic results, says Robert Andtbacka, M.D., who is a surgeon oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The treatment has had good results. As many as 25 percent, of those who were treated, continue to remain free from cancer. Of course, the dangerous part of the herpes virus has been genetically removed.

Melanoma, or skin cancer, is the most prevalent form of cancer. It also is the most fatal, causing 76 percent of all cancer deaths each year. The American Cancer Society reports that there are expected to be as more than 73,000 new cases of melanoma this year, and that more than 9,900 people will die from it.

About twice as many men will get melanoma and die from, it than women. It is also about 20 times more likely to occur in whites than in African Americans. The most common age for a diagnosis is 62. It is, however, becoming much more common among women, even for those under the age of 30.

The states that reported the highest death rates from melanoma are not the states that might be most suspected – the southern states. Instead, this problem is mostly seen in northwestern states, including Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. Two other states are Indiana and Kentucky. In each of them, the death rate is between 3.2 and 4.0 per 100,000 people.

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