In today’s news, former President Jimmy Carter, who has metastatic melanoma, revealed that he has responded well to treatment. We asked melanoma expert Evan J. Lipson, M.D., for his thoughts:

“I was pleased to hear President Carter’s report that his most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones. While we don’t know whether President Carter is completely free of melanoma, it’s encouraging to see a 91-year-old man tolerating his treatments well and continuing to work at his foundation.

“My understanding is that the president has been treated with surgery, radiation therapy and a drug called pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1). Pembrolizumab is a relatively new medication that activates the body’s immune system to fight melanoma. In some patients, when the immune system is activated using pembrolizumab or another similar medication, nivolumab, it can attack the cancer and bring about a remission that can last for months or sometimes years. These medications have also demonstrated efficacy in some tumor types other than melanoma.

“I hope that positive outcomes like this one will be encouraging for other patients battling cancer.”

More information about melanoma and immunotherapy is available from the Johns Hopkins Melanoma Program. Look for the next issue of Promise & Progress, which will feature immunotherapy

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