Most people have heard of the drug Keytruda, used most notably by former President Jimmy Carter for his advanced melanoma, but the details were not specific. A new report out this month is showing just how powerful the drug can be in treating deadly late stage melanomas. In 2011, the median survival of patients with melanoma was less than one year. The new study on Keytruda shows that 40% of melanoma patients treated with it were still alive three years later, an astounding increase in survival rates.
The drug is expensive, but since it is FDA approved and not experimental, it is covered by insurance in most cases. Researchers at Dana Farber, where the drug is being studied, caution that it's far from a cure, but they are hopeful that the drug's ability to stimulate the immune system to target and kill cancer will be the future of treating melanoma and hopefully other forms of cancer as well.