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Rare medical phenomenon of systemic tumor disappearance following local radiation treatment reported in a patient with metastatic melanoma
Date:3/7/2012

March 8, 2012, NEW YORK A rarely seen phenomenon in cancer patients in which focused radiation to the site of one tumor is associated with the disappearance of metastatic tumors all over the body has been reported in a patient with melanoma treated with the immunotherapeutic agent ipilimumab (Yervoy). Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center shared their findings in a unique single-patient study, which could help shed light on the immune system's role in fighting cancer. Their observations suggest that the combination of ipilimumab and radiation may be a promising approach for the treatment of melanoma. The findings are published as a brief report in the March 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The work was done at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy.

The phenomenon reported by the researchers, known as the abscopal effect, occurs when localized radiation therapy delivered to a single tumor in a patient with advanced disease results in tumor disappearance outside of the irradiated area. Though the abscopal effect is extremely rare, it has been described in several cancers including melanoma, lymphoma, and kidney cancer.

"We are excited about these results, and what we have seen in this one patient proves the principle that adding radiation therapy to immunotherapy may be a promising combination approach to treatment for advanced cancer," explained senior author Jedd Wolchok, MD, PHD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with a joint appointment in the Sloan Kettering Institute's Immunology Program. "What we think is happening here is that the immune system's cancer-fighting response is turned up a notch with the addition of focused radiation," added Dr. Wolchok.

In the case study Dr. Wolchok and colleagues reported treating a patient with advanced melanoma using an immunotherapy called ipilimumab, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Admi
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Contact: Jeanne D'Agostino
dagostij@mskcc.org
212-639-3573
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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