How New Immunotherapy is Helping to Treat Melanoma

Today is Melanoma Monday. An oncologist highlights a new FDA approved immunotherapy that can help extend the lives for those with advanced stage 4 melanoma.

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CLEVELAND - May 6 is Melanoma Monday.

Melanoma is considered the deadliest of all skin cancers.

However, a new FDA approved immunotherapy could help extend lives for some.

“This is the first of its kind personalized immunotherapy for patients with melanoma who've progressed on prior therapies,” explained Thach-Giao Truong, MD, oncologist and medical director of the melanoma program at Cleveland Clinic. “It is very unique because it's a treatment that's made directly from patients’ own tumors.”

The single-dose immunotherapy is currently approved for those with advanced stage 4 melanoma who have not had success with other treatments.

The process works by surgically removing a piece of the patient’s tumor and then identifying specific cancer-fighting immune cells from it.

From there, the cells are multiplied and reinfused through an IV.
By doing this, the patient’s own immune cells can go on to identify and fight the cancer.

Dr. Truong said immunotherapy-based treatments are a very effective way to fight melanoma.

In fact, eight-year data from older immune treatment strategies used to date, show 80% of people who respond to initial treatment continue to do well off medication.

“Today, we know that if you get a response on treatment, we’ll see that relatively early in the first few months, that you have a very great chance of being one of those 80% at eight years,” said Dr. Truong. “And in just a short while, the survival from melanoma since the advent of immunotherapy, it’s now at five years, more than half of people remain alive with stage 4 disease.”

Cleveland Clinic is one of 23 facilities across the United States to offer this kind of immunotherapy for advanced stage 4 melanoma.

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Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

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