Utah Doctors May Have Cure for Melanoma

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Utah has the highest rate of melanoma cases in the country, but now doctors at a cancer institute in the state believe they may be onto a cure.

“Our patients are living longer and we’re able for the first time in melanoma to potentially talk about a cure which is something we have not been able to talk about before,” said Dr. Robert Andtbacka, a surgeon oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

He says the new treatment teaches the body to heal itself and 60 percent of the patients are seeing dramatic results.

“What we do with this treatments we take the virus. This is not the common virus. We take these viruses for herpes others are cold viruses and what we do is change the way these viruses work,” said Dr. Andtbacka.

He says the viruses are injected directly into the melanoma tumor.

Cells then learn to fight and stop the cancer.

“It develops a memory in the immune system so it can fight this at other sites and distant places,” he said.

It also allows patients to avoid having to go through chemotherapy and other painful surgeries.

“Many patients view as standard chemotherapy being very difficult to take you lose your hair you feel nauseated and other side effects these viruses are very easily tolerated,” said Dr. Andtbacka.

It’s a finding Maryann Gerber, a melanoma survivor, says if it works, the injections will save others from similar pain she had to go through after doctors found melanoma on her left cheek.

“If they could have done that to my face and so I didn’t have to have the six inch scar on my face and do the other surgeries I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like for those two years,” she said.

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