Sep 28, 2009 12:31 PM by Jamie Smith
Researchers are working to put an end to one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. If it works, it could open the door to killing other cancers.
59 year-old Cathy Bjorklund says cutting her foot on metal edging in her yard saved her life. "Had I not cut my foot open, there is no doubt that I would be dead by now because I would have never known it," said Bjorklund. The cut on her foot did not heal. Tests revealed she had level three melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Treating melanoma is a challenge, so researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas are studying a protein, hoping it will interact with the body's immune system and kill those deadly melanoma cells. "Melanoma is unique because we have experience that it reacts with the immune system," said Dr. James Huth, a UT Southwestern surgical oncologist. "We've seen melanomas go away in people."
Dr. Huth is heading up the UT Southwestern melanoma study that hopes to produce a vaccine for melanoma patients. "We would hope that it would cure a significant amount of patients and prevent their melanoma from coming back," said Dr. Huth.
Bjorklund is a few toes short, but cancer-free and hammering home the message of sunscreen! "I have five granddaughters that are definitely covered in hats for everything that we would have never thought as a baby then," said Bjorklund.
The UT Southwestern study is still looking for patients whose melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes.