Once in a while I use this forum for what it is meant to be – a blog on cancer, not just a running T.J. diary. In my opinion, blogs are useful because they are short thoughts about relevant information, usually with corresponding links. So without further ado, here is a small slice of what is going on in the cancer world and locally.
Remember how there are two versions of PD-1 out in trial? Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb are competing to be the first company to market their drugs, and although Merck had clearly taken the lead to get pembrolizumab approved for metastatic melanoma, BMS’s nivolumab got its trade name and an earlier-than-expected market approval objective. This puts it nearly on pace with the Merck drug, and means there will likely be two drugs on the market before you start seeing Christmas stuff in Target (i.e. October). BMS was able to accelerate their pace, in part, because its Phase III trial of the drug was cut short when interim data showed the drug had clear benefit over chemotherapy. In this case, short equals good, and the control patients will now get the PD-1 antibody.
Check out this interesting quick read from a Jamaican news site – JAMAICA MON! – that speaks to a few lesser-known melanoma details, especially in regards to skin type. The risk is significantly less in non-Caucasians (although I could not verify the accuracy of their numbers), but the downside is those of Asian, Black, and Hispanic heritage tend to get diagnosed with later-stage melanomas. The survival rates and life expectancies plummet as the disease spreads – if Bob Marley can succumb to melanoma, then you and I can too. Darker-skinned friends, please don’t take it for granted that genetics will keep you safe from the sun (and no, “darker-skinned” does not mean my Italian friends who tanned on the beach all summer).
Speaking of sitting in the sun all summer, did you know that Washington State ranks among the highest incidents of melanoma in the nation, despite being one of the cloudiest states? That has serious implications, especially for sun exposure to children, according to this article from Spokane.