FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Each year, melanoma kills more people than any other skin cancer. But recently the FDA approved a drug that is showing remarkable results in treatment of the deadly disease. It's a cancer breakthrough that's changing what was once a grim prognosis.
Her hand may look a little bruised, but for 78-year-old Diana Coy it's a welcome sight, considering it once looked like this.
"I looked down and it looked like this and the next day when I woke up, they were just big," Diana Coy told ABC30.
It began as a mole on her arm which turned out to be melanoma and was removed. Months later, it came back, growing at an alarming rate.
"The worry of course was that it might eventually spread to her vital organs including her lungs and liver," explained Amita Patnaik, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Medical Oncologist and Associate Director of Clinical Research at South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics.
Coy joined a clinical trial at South Texas accelerated Research Therapeutics, or S.T.A.R.T. Every three weeks she receives an infusion of a drug called keytruda, which stimulates the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer.
"Miracle is after about the third treatment I noticed they just started to dry up and they fell off and it was just amazing," explained Coy.
Photos taken of Coy's hand every couple of weeks show significant progress.
Dr. Patnaik explained, "I think it's incredibly unique and representative of a completely different era that's evolving now in cancer medicine whereby we're beginning to use the immune system in fighting cancer."
A development that's giving this avid reader her life back.
Because of the results, the FDA has now approved keytruda to be standard-of-care for patients with advanced melanoma.
Dr. Patnaik says there are 76,000 cases of melanoma expected this year. For more information on the FDA approved treatment for advanced melanoma, click here.
For more information on this report, please contact:
South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (S.T.A.R.T.)
Patient Referral Coordinator
New treatment for advanced melanoma
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