Dr Sullivan will be presenting our upcoming free cancer update lecture - ‘The Current State of Play with Immunotherapy Treatments' on January 24. We spoke with him about what his lecture will cover and what you can expect to learn from attending, below.
CCWA: What will your lecture cover?
Dr Sullivan: I plan to provide a broad overview of what immunotherapy is and how it has impacted the care of patients with melanoma. I will touch upon the types of treatments, how they are used, and what are the downsides.
CCWA: What is the current state of play with immunotherapy treatments and melanoma?
Dr Sullivan: Since the 1980s, immunotherapy has played a major role in the treatment of patients with melanoma. This is for two major reasons, standard chemotherapy approaches were of limited value to treat melanoma since 1) melanoma is quite resistant to chemotherapy and 2) melanoma is uniquely sensitive to immunotherapy given the risk factor (ultraviolet irradiation) creates a scenario that attracts immune cells into the tumour. However, truly effective therapies have only been around for a decade. These therapies target the cancer-killing immune cells and make them more abundant and generally better at killing cancer cells. Unfortunately, only a bit more than half of patients have clinical benefit from these treatments, so strategies are necessary to make these treatments more effective. Additionally, these medications can cause side effects related to generating immune cells that attack normal cells and tissues that range in severity from annoying to fatal. The major next steps in building better treatments are to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from standard immunotherapy, understand why these treatments do not work when patients do not benefit and become better at predicting and limiting side effects.
CCWA: What can people expect to learn from your lecture?
Dr Sullivan: Attendees will learn why people get melanoma, what immunotherapy is, how it is given, who is likely to benefit, why it stops working, what side effects can occur, and what is being done to make immunotherapy more effective for more patients with melanoma.
The Current State of Play with Immunotherapy Treatments
Date: Thursday, 24 January 2019
Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm
Venue: The State Library Theatre, Alexander Library Building Francis St, Perth