Save Your Skin Foundation

Save Your Skin Foundation

February 07, 2012 14:59 ET

Save Your Skin Foundation Applauds Health Canada's Decision to Approve Yervoy™ for Advanced Melanoma

New Treatment is First and Only to Extend Survival for Canadians With Deadliest Form of Skin Cancer

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 7, 2012) - Health Canada has announced its approval of Yervoy™ (ipilimumab) to treat metastatic, or advanced, melanoma. It is the first new treatment for the disease in more than a decade, and is the only medicine proven to significantly extend the lives of patients living with the disease. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and one of the fastest growing cancers in Canada.

"Health Canada's approval of Yervoy provides hope for Canadians fighting to live longer," says Kathy Barnard, Founder of the Save Your Skin Foundation. "It's heartbreaking to see so many Canadians losing their battle with melanoma and, given that most patients with advanced melanoma survive less than a year, time is critical. I hope all Canadians who need it, will have access to Yervoy as soon as possible, giving them a chance to survive this disease."

This news hits a personal note for Barnard, who is fighting her own battle with melanoma. In 2003 Barnard was first diagnosed, and by 2005 stage IV malignant melanoma had spread. Tumors were found in her left lung, kidney, liver, and adrenal gland. In 2007 through a clinical study Barnard was treated with Yervoy and has been disease free since.

"I was extremely fortunate to have had access to this medication," says Barnard. "Awareness and access to new treatments is critical. It's the reason I'm alive today." One of the key objectives of Save Your Skin is to create timely and national awareness of available treatment options.

In its late stages, the average life expectancy for melanoma is just six months, with a one-year survival rate of only 25 percent, making metastatic melanoma one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. An estimated 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and 950 will die from it. Melanoma is responsible for 75 percent of the deaths associated with skin cancer.

The Kaplan-Meier survival rate with Yervoy at both one and two years was almost double when measured against patients treated with gp100 cancer vaccine. Survival was 46 per cent at one year and 24 percent at 2 years for Yervoy, versus 25 percent at one year and 14 percent at two years for gp100. Yervoy also showed long-term survival with some patients living three or four years beyond treatment.

Yervoy provides advanced melanoma suffers with an important new treatment option and a real hope for long-term survival.

About Melanoma in Canada

Every year, thousands of Canadians are diagnosed with Melanoma, with the incidence of the disease increasing faster than that of any other cancer. Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) located in the skin. One in 74 men and 1 in 90 women are expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime; 1 in 284 men and 1 in 486 women will die of it. Melanoma is clearly visible on the skin, and 90 per cent of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV light, including tanning beds.

About Yervoy™

Yervoy (3 mg/kg) is indicated for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma in patients who have failed or do not tolerate other systemic therapy for advanced disease.

Yervoy is a recombinant; human monoclonal antibody, and the first approved cancer immunotherapy for melanoma to target the CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4), which plays a role in suppressing normal immune function.

About the Save Your Skin Foundation

The Save Your Skin Foundation is a Canadian not-for-profit foundation. Through events and other initiatives, the Foundation focuses on: raising funds for education and awareness, providing emotional and financial support to those dealing with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and on supporting the ongoing research and treatment of skin cancer - especially melanoma.

Donations go towards providing critical and timely treatments, as well as ongoing education, research, and awareness initiatives.

For additional information please visit or contact Birgit Simon at 604-734-4223.

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