Taking Action for Your Health: Suspicious mole could have taken woman’s life

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-07 17:19:17-05

Chesapeake, Va. - Nancy McPherson of Chesapeake is getting a valuable lesson today, one that could save her life.

She just had a suspicious mole on her calf removed last month.

“It was malignant melanoma,” says Nancy.

Nancy said she wasn`t going to panic until she knew whether it had spread.  So Dr. Michael Gross removed it and sent it to the lab.

“He felt certain that he got all of it, that when I walked out I would be cancer free. The pathology report has come back to confirm that,” says Nancy.

It was great news for Nancy, but for others whose tumors have grown, chemotherapy is used and the side effects are harsh. That`s why a new treatment being studied by researchers at EVMS and ODU is very promising.

It works by injecting an immune stimulating molecule into the tumor and then applying electrical pulses.

“We find that not only did that tumor go away but the mice are protected from new tumors forming,” says Dr. Heller.

Dr. Richard Heller from ODU is working on this study with Dr. John Semmes from Eastern Virginia Medical School.  The team just completed phase 2 clinical trials on patients,” says Dr. Heller. “Four had a complete response meaning their tumors went away. Not only did the treated lesions go away, but the untreated lesions went away and they are disease free.”

Of the 30 patients who took part in the clinical trial, 14% had a complete response and 48 percent had disease control.

“The results on this were pretty impressive. The melanoma lesions were nearly completely reversed,” says Dr. Semmes.

So for a very localized treatment where there is minimal to no toxicity, this is pretty revolutionary.