What Is Ipilimumab Used For?
Ipilimumab is prescribed for the treatment of advanced melanoma (a type of skin cancer) in adults. This medicine is approved to treat melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body or that cannot be treated with surgery. It works by increasing production of certain white blood cells that attack cancer cells. Ipilimumab is used only in adults age 18 and older.
Ipilimumab (Yervoy™) is an anticancer medication used to treat a type of skin cancer known as melanoma. This drug is reserved for use when melanoma has advanced to the point that it has metastasized (spread in the body) or cannot be surgically removed.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It occurs when melanocytes, the cells that make melanin, which gives the skin and hair its color, begin to grow abnormally and become cancerous. Although melanoma is not as common as other cancers, it is becoming more common every year.
Some people appear to have a higher risk for melanoma. This includes people who have:
- A family history of melanoma
- Had one or more severe sunburns during childhood
- Fair skin and light-colored eyes
- Many moles or freckles
- Frequent sun exposure, including artificial sun exposure (such as tanning beds)
- A weakened immune system.
In most cases, the first symptom of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. Growths or sores that itch, scab, become crusty, or bleed may also be possible signs.
If melanoma is caught early, it can often be treated with surgery. However, once the cancer cells have grown deeper into the skin or spread to other organs, it is much more difficult to treat and the chances of recovery are small. At this late stage, medications such as ipilimumab may be used to slow down the progression of melanoma and extend survival.