Therapy Improves Life Span in Patients with Brain Metastases - Beyond Vital Signs
Therapy Improves Life Span in Patients with Brain Metastases
In a retrospective study, SLU researchers have found that patients with melanoma brain metastases can be treated with large doses of interleukin-2 (HD IL-2), a therapy that triggers the body's own immune system to destroy the cancer cells.
The study, published in Chemotherapy Research and Practice, reviews cases of eight patients who underwent this therapy at Saint Louis University.
John Richart, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and principal investigator of the study, first treated a patient with the disease using the HD IL-2 treatment in 1999.
"Traditionally, melanoma patients with brain metastases have not been considered for HD IL-2 because treatment was thought to be futile," Richart said. "Our study shows that having this condition does not exclude a patient from getting this treatment and can in fact improve the length of their life."
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer that begins in the melanin-producing cells called melanocytes. In some melanoma patients, the cancer spreads to the brain, causing multiple tumors that are difficult to treat. Richart said the median overall survival of patients with melanoma brain metastases is approximately four months, whereas in the study, the median overall survival for patients was 8.7 months.
SLU is the only medical center in the region that provides this treatment.