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How is immunotherapy used to treat skin cancer?

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Immunotherapy is a field of cancer treatment that attempts to target and kill cancer cells by manipulating the body's immune system. Some of the most promising developments in the field of immunotherapy have come from efforts to cure advanced melanoma. Some researchers are treating advanced cases with vaccines, while others are using drugs such as interferon, interleukin-2, and ipilimumab (Yervoy) in an effort to stimulate immune cells into attacking melanoma cells more aggressively. In people with advanced melanoma, two drugs, nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) have been found to be effective after use of ipilimumab. These drugs help block proteins on T-cells that normally help keep them in check, therefore allowing these immune cells to attack melanoma cells. Genetic manipulation of melanoma tumors may make them more vulnerable to attack by the immune system. Each of these treatment approaches aims to immunize a patient's body against its own cancer -- something the body cannot do naturally.

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Skin Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cells."

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on August 23, 2017

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Skin Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cells."

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on August 23, 2017

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What drugs do doctors use to treat skin cancer?

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