• STV
  • MySTV

New lifesaving treatment for people battling skin cancer

A combination of two drugs reduced the risk of melanoma returning or death by over 50%.

Success: The trials showed that the drug reduced the risk of melanoma returning.
Success: The trials showed that the drug reduced the risk of melanoma returning. Pixabay

A lifesaving treatment for post-surgery patients battling the most aggressive type of skin cancer is now available on the NHS in Scotland.

Dabrafenib in combination with trametinib has been recommended as a cost-effective option for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with stage-three melanoma with a BRAF V600 mutation, following surgery.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium's recommendation follows clinical trial results, which showed that the oral drug combination reduced the risk of melanoma returning or death by over 50%.

Dr Ashita Waterston, medical oncology consultant at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, said: "This treatment option will transform the standard of care for people with BRAF-positive stage-three melanoma living in Scotland.

"By treating these patients with tablets it allows flexibility for patients, particularly those living a distance away."

The number of people diagnosed with melanoma in Scotland has soared in recent years, with around 1380 new cases every year.

Between four and five out of every ten of these melanomas have the BRAF mutation.

In the UK, melanoma accounts for more deaths than all other skin cancers combined. There are around 180 deaths from melanoma skin cancer in Scotland each year.

Stage-three melanoma means that cancer cells have spread into skin, lymph vessels or lymph glands close to the melanoma, but they haven't yet spread to more distant parts of the body.

'For many years, patients simply had to hope their melanoma would not return, which can often be an incredibly anxious time since in over half of all melanoma patients, their cancer did return'
Dr Ashita Waterston

Dr Waterston added: "Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and until recently there were no reimbursed treatment options for these patients.

"For many years, patients simply had to hope their melanoma would not return, which can often be an incredibly anxious time since in over half of all melanoma patients, their cancer did return."

Until now, there were no reimbursed BRAF-targeted treatments that offered clear benefits for Scottish patients following surgery.

Prior to recent approvals, nearly half (44%) of those with BRAF V600 mutated melanoma suffered a recurrence within a year after surgery, with the risk that the cancer progresses to an incurable state.

The combination treatment is a convenient oral therapy that can be taken at home, consisting of five tablets a day.

Prior to the recent adjuvant therapy funding decisions, radiotherapy was the only reimbursed treatment option in Scotland and it was only used in specific cases.

As a result, for the majority of post-surgery patients in Scotland a 'watch and wait' approach, to see if the cancer progressed to the next stage, was the accepted standard of care.

'The availability of this treatment for people living in Scotland is a huge step forward for these patients, who are currently left with few options following surgery'
Leigh Smith, chair of Melanoma Action and Support Scotland

Leigh Smith MBE TD, chair of Melanoma Action and Support Scotland, said: "We've seen a huge increase in the number of people being diagnosed with melanoma in Scotland over the last decade, which is a very worrying trend.

"The availability of this treatment for people living in Scotland is a huge step forward for these patients, who are currently left with few options following surgery.

"This is the first BRAF-targeted treatment option that can be taken orally from the comfort of their own home.

"Until now, most treatments required patients to travel into hospital which can be a time-consuming and stressful experience for the patient as well as their families; the convenience of this treatment has the potential to make a really positive difference."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.