WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --Every hour of every day someone dies of melanoma. Experts hope a new combination treatment can cut the skin cancer death rates in half.
Cheryl Stratos of Vienna noticed extreme fatigue and other unusual symptoms.
Stratos says, "I had numbness and tingling in my arms and my legs."
She went to her doctor and they ran a few tests. She found out a month later that she had stage 4 melanoma, which caught her completely by surprise because she didn't have any visible moles.
Her tumor spread to her lung, liver, lymph nodes and uterus.
She was only given 6 weeks to live.
It's been 48 months since her diagnosis, and her tumor is now under control. Now a new combination therapy gives her an opportunity to shrink the tumor altogether.
It was approved by theFood and Drug Adminstrationjust this week, and gives a one-two punch to the skin cancer. The first ever combo therapy to fight late stage melanoma. So the 2 drugs that are approved in this combination are Debrafehnib and Trametinib, these work inside the tumor cell. The treatment helps melanoma patients who have the Braf V600 mutation.
Tim Turnam of theMelanoma Research Foundation hopes this is the first of a whole new generation of combination therapies to fight melanomas.
Turnam says, "The Melanoma Research Foundation talks routinely with doctors and researchers about how we can change the treatment landscape for melanoma patient, and they've all agreed for a long time that the answer will be found not in one drug, but in 2 maybe 3 drugs used together."
Nearly half of all late stage melanoma patients can benefit from this treatment, including Cheryl. She's been looking forward to this moment for several years
Stratos says, "I still have lesions in my lung and my liver, but maybe adding this other drug might reduce the cancer altogether."
Mekinist (dabrafenib) and Tafinlar (trametinib) are marketed by GSK.