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Adding to this week's news about progress in the treatment of melanoma, a vaccine for the deadly skin cancer has shown promise in a new study.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. The five year-survival rates for local and metastatic melanoma are 65% and 16%, respectively. In 2009, an estimated 69,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma and about 8,600 will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
The study, a phase 3 clinical trial involving 185 people, found that using the peptide vaccine in combination with the immunotherapy drug Interleukin-2 improved response rates and progression-free survival, according to University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers, who said it was the first phase 3 trial to show a clinical benefit in a vaccine for melanoma.
Response rate and progression-free survival were 22.1% and 2.9 months, respectively, in people given the vaccine, compared with 9.7% and 1.6 months for those who were not vaccinated. Median overall survival was 17.6 months for the vaccine group and 12.8 months for the others.