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Pioneering drug could extend lives of skin cancer patients

New drug could see skin cancer patients' lifespan increase by three years. Credit: Reuters

Thousands of patients suffering the deadliest form of skin cancer could see their lifespan increased by a pioneering new drug.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended that Ipilimumab, marketed as Yervoy and hailed as a turning point in cancer treatment, should be made available as a first-line treatment for those with advanced melonoma.

Nice was previously criticised for ruling the drug should only be offered to patients who had already undergone chemotherapy or were taking part in clinical trials.

But new evidence has shown that the lifespan of those treated with the drug could increase by up to three years.

"Some of these results are really astonishing; almost jaw-dropping," said consultant medical oncologist Dr David Chao, from Royal Hampstead NHS Trust in London.

Final Nice guidance on ipilimumab is due to be issued on July 23.