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Emerging Therapies for Skin Cancer Treatment

ently dysfunctional, so the cancer cell keeps multiplying.” Based on this information, research efforts are aimed at correcting or modifying pathways in a cancer cell.

“There are many benefits to utilizing targeted therapies to treat skin cancer,” said Dr. Tsao. “The primary benefit is that the mutations often reveal a weakness for that specific cancer and thus, a targeted treatment could be possible. A second benefit is that cancerous cells are specifically destroyed thereby sparing the healthy cells and minimizing side effects. This is a significant benefit over various forms of treatment that cannot distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells and therefore target both. Another benefit is that targeted therapies can be used for different types of cancer.”

Designing targeted therapies is a very complex process. Cancer cells have many forms of mutations in many different pathways. For a targeted therapy to be effective, it must target both the cancerous cell along with the specific pathways, which can be numerous. In addition, different mutations of cancer respond to different therapies. A therapy that may work in one patient with a specific form of cancer may not work in another patient with the same form of cancer. “The most challenging aspect of targeted therapies is that tumors can become resistant to a targeted treatment,” said Dr. Tsao. “Research continues to tackle these issues and each day brings us closer to finding answers.”

Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy uses the body's own rejection system as a method of treatment. With certain cancers, especially melanoma, the immune system can play a significant role in monitoring the growth of tumors—moles can undergo complete regression as directed by the immune system. There are various forms of immunotherapy including cell transfer immunotherapy and topical immunotherapy.

Cell transfer immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the body’s natural defenses to fight t
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