The Mayo Clinic reports that current melanoma treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy and experimental therapies. However, there may soon be another option for those diagnosed with severe cases of skin cancer.
Doctors have been working on a vaccine that could treat advanced stages of melanoma and reduce the risk of fatal forms of skin cancer. Sanofi-Aventis is conducting the study for this vaccine at 25 testing centers in the United States and Canada; the vaccine is designed to stimulate the body's immune system to protect the skin cells and reduce further development of existing cancer.
In late 2008, Professor Ian Frazer of the University of Queensland delivered several findings of a vaccine he had developed to the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress. In the trials and studies, the vaccine effectively switched off the 'killer T cells' and the treatment was deemed a promising venture for the future. Researchers expected that this particular vaccine may be available within a 5-year time period. (Source: UK Telegraph)
Skin cancer continues to be one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, and dermatologists encourage people of all skin types to take a proactive approach to reduce their risk. While wearing sunscreen and steering clear of high-sun times can help, thousands of people are still diagnosed with potentially-dangerous melanoma each year. Some people are genetically susceptible to melanoma, but many cases of skin cancer go undetected until the melanoma has reached its advanced stages.
People with early stages of melanoma can undergo surgery to have the skin removed, but treatment decisions are only made after a thorough consultation.
If the vaccine is approved for use in the United States, doctors may soon be able to administer a simple injection to eliminate the deadly virus, helping patients build up enough resistance to fight the cancer on their own. Still, dermatologists advise all individuals to practice safe sunning habits in order to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place.