Top Melanoma researcher says there's reason for hope
For decades, University of Virginia oncologist Dr. Craig Slingluff has studied melanoma. That's the aggressive form of skin cancer that's made headlines since former President Jimmy Carter announced he had the disease earlier this month and that it had spread to his brain.
Late-stage melanoma used to be a virtual death sentence. Slingluff says that's not true anymore.
"It's a very exciting time. If you're going to get melanoma, it's much better to get it now than to have gotten it five or ten years ago," said Slingluff. "We have things that we can do that offer promise and that are making a huge difference."
His research has long focused on developing a melanoma vaccine that would bolster the body's own ability to fight the disease. More recently, he's begun studying the combined effectiveness of the vaccine with a new drug that also helps build up the body's own immune response.
The results of his recent research are promising, with more people diagnosed with advanced melanoma living longer.
Slingluff says most melanoma is caused by sun exposure, and he advises staying indoors when the sun is strongest or, if you are outside, wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.
But if you or someone you love does get melanoma, even Stage 4 like Carter's, Slingluff says the new treatments offer fresh hope.
He said, "There's definitely prospect for benefit and potentially living quite a long time."
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