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What new advances have been discovered in the treatment of melanoma?

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Advances in melanoma treatment as of 2015 include newer varieties of immunotherapy and targeted medications that change how physicians treat the cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Several studies are investigating combining treatment options for the most promising results.

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Immunotherapy uses the body's immune system to target melanoma, explains the American Cancer Society. As of 2015, recent advances include drugs that target proteins that allow cancer cells to be undetected by the immune system. Some of these therapies are being used on patients with advanced melanoma, thus increasing their lifespan.

Another immunotherapy currently under study is a vaccine for melanoma, states the American Cancer Society. The vaccine works similar to those for other diseases, but instead of preventing melanoma, the injections of weakened melanoma cells are used to jump-start the body's immune system to conquer the cancer. Results on vaccine therapy have been mixed, but newer vaccines may hold more promise.

In recent years, researchers have discovered gene changes in melanoma cells that promote tumor growth, and in turn have developed drugs to target these changes, reports the American Cancer Society. Researchers are finding some success using these medications to shrink tumors, coupled with other targeted drugs that zero in on proteins.

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