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Medical Edge: Unique therapy to fight skin cancer

Updated: Thursday, December 18 2014, 03:48 PM EST
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A local mom said she's alive thanks to a team at The University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute.
The team was one of just a handful in the country offering patients a unique therapy to fight the most deadly form of skin cancer. 

Getting a mole removed got Julie Shelton to the dermatologist.  She was shocked however, when almost immediately she was told "'We have to schedule you, it's cancer.'  Not what you want to hear.  And I don't want to cry," said Julie.

Julie is now a remarkable success story!  Cured of malignant melanoma, according to Doctor Nagla Karim, is the most deadly form of skin cancer that had already spread.

Dr. Karim credits that success to a medical team that simply would not give up; but also to a type of treatment that those with skin cancer may not have heard about.  It is commonly referred to as IL-2, or Interleuken Two, and to the right person it could make all the difference in survival.

Dr. Karim said, "Its immunotherapy.  And it attacks the cancer cells, but at the same time it makes the human body fight that cancer through its immunity."

IL-2 has been around for a while but Doctor Karim said it's now getting new attention because when compared to other treatments, a recent review found those such as Julie given IL-2 are alive and well 10 to 15 years later.
Julie Shelton said without it, she would not have seen her daughter grow up, "I think I am a stronger person, I think my daughter is a stronger person for seeing me go through it."
Her daughter said, however; she is the lucky one for what her mom showed her along the way, "She's shown me to be myself and not to have other people who I am and not to have something define me," Maddy said.

This treatment also had higher success rates in some other kinds of cancer, especially kidney cancer.

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