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Preoperative Immunotherapy: New Therapy Shows High Effectiveness in Treating Melanoma

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This is a chance for a revolutionary change in the treatment of melanoma, and scientists from the National Institute of Oncology in Warsaw are playing a part in this. Preoperative immunotherapy involves starting immunotherapy before the tumor is removed. This means that after the cancer is removed, the body is more effective in removing the remaining cancer cells.

Mr. Arkadiusz Górecki's neck looked like someone had stapled the cuts from the scalpel right after the operation. Two years later, it looks much better. However, the most important thing is not the appearance, but the fact that the patient is healthy. He does not have melanoma.

– I had 78 stitches here, I think. I had all the lymph nodes removed, except for the infected ones, the rest and a piece of muscle that was here – says Arkadiusz Górecki, who underwent the experimental therapy.

The results of the research he participated in were published in the prestigious medical journal “The New England Journal of Medicine” and were considered one of the most important of the year. The publication included the names of scientists from several countries, including the National Institute of Oncology.

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Immunotherapy before cancer removal

– This is a huge breakthrough in oncology, good for the patient, and saving treatment time, saving our money, and more effective – comments Professor Piotr Rutkowski from the Clinic of Soft Tissue, Bone and Melanoma Cancers of the National Institute of Oncology in Warsaw.

This is the short version of this breakthrough: doctors decided to give immunotherapy to people with metastatic melanoma for six weeks before removing the tumor. Until now, they had only given immunotherapy to patients after surgery, and for a year. The change in therapy has brought a sensational effect.

– Administering short combined immunotherapy before surgery in patients with melanoma with lymph node metastases cures patients in 60 percent of cases. Permanently – says Piotr Rutkowski.

With the old method, longer and more expensive postoperative immunotherapy, only one in five patients could be saved.

This method can now be used to treat other cancers.

Thanks to immunotherapy administered before surgery, the patient's body is able to recognize the cancer that has not yet been removed and prepare to fight it. This helps the patient to thoroughly clean the area after surgery from the remnants of the cancer that the doctors failed to remove. This method can now be used in the treatment of other cancers, including lung cancer – research is already underway.

– Gradually, some cancers are becoming chronic diseases. Additionally, it is a therapeutic method that is quite well tolerated – says Professor Andrzej Płużański, a clinical oncologist from the National Institute of Oncology in Warsaw.

As in the case of Mr. Arkadiusz Górecki. – A year and a half since the last dose of medication, I am alive now, I function normally, nothing is wrong with me, as if nothing had ever happened to me – he sums up.

Main image source: TVN24

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