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New drug prevents melanoma relapse in clinical trial

Elaine Thompson / AP

The results of a new clinical trial could revamp post-surgery treatment for people diagnosed with advanced melanoma, changing what had long been the standard protocol, per The Washington Post.

  • The trial looked at effectiveness of two immunotherapy drugs utilized after surgery to remove aggressive melanoma tumors. Yeroy has been the standard immunotherapy treatment, but it was put head-to-head with a new drug called Opdivo.
  • 71% of Opdivo users stayed cancer-free compared to 61% of those treated with Yervoy. Perhaps more importantly, users reacted better to Opdivo — only 5% of those on Opdivo discontinued their treatment due to side effects while 31% of Yervoy patients did so.
  • Why it matters: The combined safety and effectiveness of an immunotherapy drug like Opdivo is a big deal for advanced cancer treatment, considering the health risks of more traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Not so fast: It's important to note the drug isn't a cure, it's a treatment designed to prevent relapse.