Royal Marsden Cancer Charity: Melanoma Unit Update
“Thank you so much for your support of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Melanoma Unit at the hospital.”
The Royal Marsden has carried out pioneering trials of drug treatments in melanoma for the last few years and they were delighted to see that in November 2012, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved both vemurafenib and ipilimumab for the treatment of advanced melanoma. These new drugs represent the most dramatic advances in melanoma treatment in recent years.
The positive outcomes of vemurafenib were featured in the BBC Horizon documentary ‘Defeating Cancer’ in April 2012. The documentary looked at different aspects of The Royal Marsden’s work, and in particular followed the progress of Rosemary Reid, a patient with melanoma treated with the revolutionary BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib.
They were also delighted that the documentary featured the new Cyberknife machine, the purchase of which was made possible by supporters of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, as they are now able to offer patients with melanoma this incredible new radiotherapy treatment.
There remain a number of challenges. The Royal Marsden is leading trials of drugs that they hope will be suitable for tumours that do not have BRAF mutations. They hope to have a good chance of consolidating the progress that has been made already. A particularly exciting development is the development of a new generation of drugs that appear, from early clinical trials, to stimulate the immune system to recognise melanoma. They will be opening a number of trials of these new drugs this year.
The Royal Marsden also have a number of other trials in progress. They are looking at the role of ultrasound surveillance of lymph nodes after removal of primary melanoma. They are also trying to improve the regional delivery of chemotherapy to control melanoma in the leg (isolated limb perfusion).
Whilst 2012 was a very exciting year there is still a lot to do and research efforts at The Royal Marsden depend critically on funding from a number of sources.