Cancer immunotherapy refers to a variety of treatments that utilize the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. These treatments work in several ways – either by boosting your immune system in general or stimulating your immune system to recognize and attack specific cancer cells. Over the past decade, immunotherapy has become an essential part of treating certain types of cancer.
A long-term study conducted at Sheba Medical Center compared three different metastatic melanoma immunotherapy regimens to determine which is most effective. Participants were divided into groups, the first of which were administered Yervoy (Ipilimumab), the second Opdivo (Nivolumab), and the third a combination of the two.
The study observed metastatic melanoma patients for 6.5 years, and results indicated that patients treated with the combined immunotherapy regimen lived longer: 50% of participants who received the combined regimen survived for six years compared to three among patients treated exclusively with either drug.
While results suggest that for many the most effective treatment is a combined immunotherapy regimen, it is also noted that this is most applicable to older patients (aged 80 or more) or those with milder cases of the malignancy, i.e., a single immunotherapy drug can be quite effective for many other patients.