New skin cancer treatment shows promise

Breakthrough in skin cancer treatment - Newsreel
Sun bathing can be deadly without protection. But new research is showing positive signs for improving skin cancer survival rates. | Photo: Bernado Bodo (iStock)

Trials of a new cancer treatment have shown promising results in improving the survival odds for people with melanoma skin cancer.

Moderna and Merck have announced the results of a trial of the mRNA vaccine involving 157 people with mid-stage cancer over two and a half years.

The treatment boosts the body’s immune system to fight tumours and has been described as a “lightning in a bottle” treatment for the disease.

In a statement, Moderna’s Senior Vice President and Head of Development, Therapeutics and Oncology Kyle Holen described the trial results as “exceptional”.

“These results add to the emerging picture of how individualized neoantigen therapy may transform melanoma treatment and the promise it may hold for other types of cancer,” Dr Holen said.

“Together with Merck, we are rapidly advancing our efforts to move this forward for patients.”

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells.

“The rates of melanoma have been rising over the past few decades, with nearly 325,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2020,” Moderna said.

“In the US, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed, and melanoma accounts for a large majority of skin cancer deaths.

“The five-year survival rates are estimated to be approximately 60.3 percent for stage III and 16.2 percent for stage IV.”

According to the Cancer Council Queensland, Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

More than 4180 people are estimated to be diagnosed with melanoma in Queensland every year and melanoma is the second most common cancer in men and women.

The main cause of all types of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun or another source, such as solariums (tanning beds).

The full statement is on the Moderna website.