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Immunotherapy increasing survival chances for patients with aggressive melanoma

Posted at 5:58 AM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 10:43:23-04

MILWAUKEE -- There's a new hope for people diagnosed with skin cancer.

A Milwaukee oncologist tells TODAY'S TMJ4, patients who have had melanoma spread to the brain are increasing their chance of survival, through immunotherapy.

67-year-old Kathy Marquardt is being treated for Stage 3 cancer. Her melanoma metastasized from her skin to lymph nodes.

Instead of aggressive chemotherapy, Dr. Peter Johnson at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee gave her a drug that helps her body fight cancer.

"This newer kind of treatment helps the T-cells stay alert to those cancer cells," said Dr. Johnson.

The drug helps the body's T-cells spot proteins on melanoma cancer cells.

"It was almost more holistic, we were going to fortify it not to kill," said Marquardt.

Dr. Johnson calls the immunotherapy drug revolutionary for patients with aggressive forms of melanoma.

"Patients that only had cancers spread to the brain, it went from 17 folks out of 100 living to four years to about 51 or 52 people out of a hundred living that long," said Dr. Johnson.

Kathy feels thankful to have hope that patients did not have before.