Like it or not, we love being outdoors.  Which of course means out in the sun.  We’ve heard of skin cancer, or the most common, melanoma.  And we usually shrug our sun screened shoulders and think we may have to suffer a few divots in the future to get those pesky spots removed.  Think again.  Melanoma can easily spread, or metastasize, to organs like your lungs or even the brain.

Fortunately, and in addition to all the preventative steps we should take for sun protection, there are some revolutionary new treatments for this insidious disease.  The long time standard treatment meant some combination of surgery, radiation, or chemo therapy.  Now, there’s a fourth option.  This treatment tweaks the immune system to attack the cancer or tumor.  It works by tinkering with the T-cells, a type of white blood cell, to focus on and attack cancer cells.  When it works, it works exceptionatly well.

Unfortunately, it took almost ten years after discovery, for the first drug to come out.  Now however, there are a number specific immune boosting treatment options depending on the specific cancer.  Of course, each case is different and using one’s own cells to kill cancer doesn’t yet work across the board.  Although it is a plausible option when other therapies fail.  Especially when the cancer has metastasized or can’t be surgically removed.  Furthermore, it has changed the way doctors and researchers think about cancer treatment.  Oncologists can now say they have a real shot at curing certain types of cancer.

Go outside, have fun, and take precautions in the sun so the fun continues.

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