New drugs show promise against melanoma

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Two new experimental pills called Trametinib and Dabrafenib are showing great promise when it comes to keeping this deadly form of skin cancer from progressing in patients with advanced stages. By Jennifer Thomas Two new experimental pills called Trametinib and Dabrafenib are showing great promise when it comes to keeping this deadly form of skin cancer from progressing in patients with advanced stages. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- There is new hope for late-stage melanoma patients. While drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat this deadly disease in the past year and a half, two more could be added into the mix.

“I never thought it could be life-threatening,” Ladd Smith said.

Smith never imagined a tiny spot on his right leg could be Stage 3 melanoma.

“Go in for a physical and within three weeks, they're telling you you have stage four cancer,” Robert Hough said.

For Hough it was an even bigger shock. His melanoma returned last year and this time it was in his lungs and pancreas. 

“I started thinking if this doesn't work, what am I going to do?” Hough continued.

Both men have currently found treatments to battle their disease. But two new experimental pills called Trametinib and Dabrafenib are showing great promise when it comes to keeping this deadly form of skin cancer from progressing in patients with advanced stages.

“The difference was probably anywhere from a month or month in a half versus four or five months of increase of that benefit," Dr. Jade Homsi said

Homsi is with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert. He's the principal investigator in a phase three clinical trial starting up at the hospital using these drugs.

“These two new drugs will be combined and compared to an existing BRAF drug that we've been using for the past few years,” Homsi said. “And we'll see if adding a new drug or adding this combination would be more effective rather than just using one drug.”

It’s a sign of hope that more therapies are on the horizon.

“Hope there is some things that can help reduce the tumors and hopefully knock them out completely,” Smith said.

The results from the experimental drugs were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is expected to start the trial in July. For more information and to see if you’re a candidate, visit www.bannermdanderson.com or call 480-256-6444.