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Immunotherapy for skin cancer surgery leads to better outcomes

Immunotherapy for skin cancer surgery leads to better outcomes

In most cases, patients with metastatic melanoma benefit from immunotherapy before surgery. Research by Anthony van Leeuwenhoek shows that 59 percent of patients treated with this arrangement no longer require any follow-up treatment. After one year, 84% of successfully treated patients remained tumor-free. This is a much higher percentage than that in the control group that received the standard treatment (57 percent).

Current standard treatment requires patients with metastatic melanoma to undergo twelve courses of immunotherapy medication after surgery to remove lymph nodes. Nearly half of them develop the disease again within three to five years. Medical oncologist Christian Planck of the hospital, which specializes in cancer, had suspected for years that it might be more effective to give immunotherapy first and then operate. Previous studies he conducted also indicated this.

The results he published on Sunday come from the largest study to date, among 423 patients from various countries. One group received standard treatment, while the other initially received two immunotherapy treatments with ipilimumab and nivolumab, followed by surgery.

Treatment is cheaper

For most patients, the duration of treatment with the new method is also shorter, with an average of six weeks. There are also financial benefits. “The treatment is much cheaper, 16,000 euros per patient instead of 68,000 euros,” says Blank.

In the Netherlands, according to his calculations, this would save between 30 and 40 million euros annually. Worldwide, nearly a billion lives could be saved annually.


Immunotherapy has greatly improved the treatment of various types of cancer in recent years. This type of treatment makes the body’s immune system better able to destroy cancer cells. This is a different approach from cancer treatments that have been around for some time, such as chemotherapy and radiation. These target the tumor itself.

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Blank presented the results of his research on Sunday at a major conference of oncologists in Chicago. He also published it in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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By: Editing