President Carter Has Metastatic Melanoma

Last week we reported that former President Jimmy Carter had been diagnosed with cancer in his liver and elsewhere in his body.  He was to seen at Emory University, in Atlanta, GA for further testing, and would update us this week.

Some of those result are now available.

At a press conference at the Carter Center yesterday,  Carter surprised many by revealing that the cancer in his liver is actually malignant melanoma, and that he has 4 small lesions in his brain as well as in his liver. During his Aug 3 surgery, Carter had about 1/10 of his liver removed.

Carter is scheduled to undergo a single course of radiation treatment to his brain, although he may require additional courses later.  He will also receive four rounds of a new immune system-boosting drug.  The infusion of pembrolizumab, better known as Keytruda®, which will be administered at three-week intervals.

Additional studies are being performed to find the primary melanoma tumor.

President Carter went on to add

“I just thought I had a few weeks left. But I was surprisingly at ease — much more so than my wife was. I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes.”

Keytruda® is a recently FDA approved treatment for melanoma, belonging to the class of drugs referred to as immunotherapy. Here is a video explaining how immunotherapy works.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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