WSVN — Almost all of South Florida sun worshipers worry about skin cancer, especially deadly melanoma. But as 7’s Christine Cruz shows us, targeted therapy is giving melanoma patients new hope.
Gavin Pratt can make anyone’s hair look fabulous.
Gavin Pratt: “I’ve been a licensed hair stylist for 20 years now.”
But for the past six years, this busy stylist has been fighting for his life against the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Gavin Pratt: “Stage 2 melanoma.”
Gavin had surgery to remove the tumor but the cancer had already spread.
Gavin Pratt: “I had already started to grow a little tumor in the right side of my groin in my lymph nodes.”
Three surgeries later, Gavin’s cancer kept coming back. He was beginning to lose hope when he met Dr. Jose Lutzky at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr Lutzky says while melanoma isn’t the most common skin cancer, it is the most dangerous.
Dr. Jose Lutzky: “Melanoma can spread, it can kill you.”
Patients have faced an uphill battle trying to beat the disease.
Dr. Jose Lutzky: “Up to five years ago, we really didn’t have very effective treatments to treat melanoma.”
But now a national research study of a new treatment is giving patients like Gavin hope. Doctors are using Immunotherapy, in combination with drugs, that target the tumor to attack cancer cells and keep them from coming back.
Dr. Jose Lutzky: “With immunotherapy, we’re trying to stimulate the immune system or wake up the immune system.”
And the immune system will then target the cancer cells. Gavin gets an infusion every other week and takes seven pills a day that target his tumor.
Gavin Pratt: “As of now, I’m doing really good. I’m not having any side effects.”
And the combination is working. This CAT scan shows his tumors are virtually gone.
Dr. Jose Lutzky: “The smaller lesion on the liver has disappeared and the larger lesion can barely be seen.”
Gavin is back to doing what he loves; styling hair. He continues to receive treatment in the study and no longer stresses out over cancer.
Gavin Pratt: “Because going through something like this makes you realize all the stupid stuff that we stress about is irrelevant and pointless.”
Phase one of the clinical trial will be presented to oncologists, next month. Now, Gavin admits he did one thing wrong which led to his cancer spreading.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center:
4306 Alton Road
Miami Beach, FL 33140
Tel: (305) 535-3300
On Instagram: GavinDHairArtist