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Scientists unveil advanced skin cancer breakthrough

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A team of scientists claims to have developed a drug capable of treating skin cancer even in its most-advanced stages.

Presenting their findings at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Florida, researchers from Roche and Plexxikon explained that the drug PLX4032, which is still in its experimental stages, could work to combat malignant melanomas.

Specifically, the drug works by destroying tumour cells carrying the BRAF mutation, found to be responsible in a majority of fatal melanomas, thereby allowing people suffering from skin cancer to extend the length of their lives, rather than just the quality, as is the case with chemotherapy.

Welcoming the findings, Dr Jodie Moffat of Cancer Research UK told the BBC: "While these results are interesting, they need to be followed up in much larger studies before we know if this is a suitable new treatment for people with advanced melanoma.

"Melanoma is difficult to treat when it is at an advanced stage so it's crucial to find new treatments to help beat the disease."

The UK recently overtook Australia in terms of the number of skin-cancer related deaths annually, with young people increasingly falling victim to the condition.

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Cancer treatment news : 06/06/2009