Monday October 22 10:24 AM ET
"Immune System Therapy Helps Skin Cancer Patients"
Immune System Therapy Helps Skin Cancer Patients
LISBON (Reuters) - A new form of immune system therapy can
help prolong the lives of people suffering from the most
serious type of skin cancer, French scientists said on Monday.
Professor Brigitte Dreno and a team of researchers from the
INSERM U 463 laboratories in Nantes have developed a treatment
to boost the immune system of melanoma patients after they have
had surgery to remove skin tumors.
Dreno told a European cancer conference that the technique
had cut the number of relapses and increased the survival of
patients who were given the treatment in early trials.
The treatment is based on cells called tumor infiltrating
lymphocytes (TILS) that produce a reaction against the cancer.
Results showed TILs injected as treatment in addition to
surgery could reduce the frequency of relapses and increase
survival of patients with only one cancerous lymph node, Dreno
told the ECCO 11 cancer conference.
Lymph nodes are small masses of tissue in the lymphatic
system of the body. When cancer spreads from its original site
to a lymph node it is an indication of the seriousness of the
disease and the likelihood of it spreading to other sites in
TILs are taken from a lymph node removed for a biopsy, then
grown in the laboratory for several weeks to increase their
potency. Finally they are injected back into the patient
following surgery to improve their immune system.
The TILs produce tumor specific reactive T cells that
stimulate the production of gamma interferon, a key immune
A comparative study of skin cancer patients given both TILs
and interleukin2, a naturally occurring immune system protein,
or just interleukin2 showed the combination was more effective
if only one lymph node was cancerous.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and the
most common cause of death by cancer among those aged 25 to 29.
It accounts for roughly 10% of reported cases of skin cancer
and can spread rapidly throughout the body, forming secondary
tumors in the liver, lungs, bones and brain.
Doctors advise people to protect themselves from the sun's
harmful ultraviolet radiation and prevent skin cancer by using
sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
People should consult a doctor if they discover any new
moles on the skin or changes in the size, shape or color of
existing moles, or any oozing, crusting or bleeding.
Up to 8,000 doctors, scientists and researchers are
attending the Lisbon meeting, which ends Thursday.
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