Health Beat: Skin cancer's deadliest form

Health Beat: Skin cancer's deadliest form

TAMPA, Fla. - It brightens the day, and helps the grass grow, but the sun is taking more lives every year in the United States.

Now, there's a new treatment for metastatic melanoma, a skin cancer that spreads rapidly and aggressively.

Christine Postoian, who has the disease, said it's no wonder. She spent most of her life soaking up the sun.

"I'd use baby oil and sometimes you'd add that little iodine to color your skin even further," Postoian said.

The survival rate for metastatic melanoma was eight months, but now it's up to 23 months thanks to a newly approved FDA combination of drugs. The two drugs are known as BRAF and MEK drugs.

"You're better off today with our new repertoire of drugs than people ever were in the past," said Dr. Jeffrey Weber, director, Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center, Moffit Cancer Center.

The new drug combo essentially blocks all the pathways so the tumor can't spread. Weber compares it to a police chase.

"If you're clever, not only do you block the main highway, but you block all the exits and all the other ability of the bad guy to get off the road. In that case, you will definitely catch him because he has no place to go," Weber said.

For Postoian, the new treatment is like a ray of sunshine that hopefully means better health is on the horizon.

The cost of the new treatment is $16,000 a month.

Epidemiologists said sun exposure in the first three decades provides the greatest risk for melanoma.

To prevent melanoma, don't schedule outside activities during 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wear a wide-brimmed hat with sunscreen and make a mole map of your body and keep track of it.

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