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Breakthrough treatment leaves Mesa man cancer-free one year later

(Facebook/University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health)

PHOENIX– A new treatment being utilized by a Phoenix hospital has helped a Mesa man overcome a potentially deadly form of skin cancer in just a year.

Doctors at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center treated 39-year-old Bryce Dunnuck with immunotherapy, a procedure that strengthens the immune system so it can fight off cancer cells, following his diagnosis of metastatic melanoma.

“Immunotherapy releases the brakes on immune cells called T-lymphocytes, and allows them to target the cancer and trigger an amplified immune response,” Dr. Debra Wong, MD, medical oncologist at the facility, said in a press release Monday.

Wong noted the drugs used during immunotherapy “takes the blindfolds” off immune cells. It can have a long-lasting effect in cancer patients who respond to the treatment.

The immune system recognizes and attacks foreign substances in the body, but the presence of cancer can suppress the immune system and prevent it from recognizing the cancer as a foreign object.

“Thirty years ago, getting melanoma would have been a different story,” Dunnuck said in the release.

In 2016, there were 2,074 cases of melanomas of the skin reported in Arizona alone, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arizona’s sunny climate makes residents more susceptible to these types of cancers.

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