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Zelboraf the Skin Cancer Pill

March 14, 2012

Drug Treatment For Late Stage Melanoma

Zelboraf (vermurafenib), which is made by the pharmaceutical company Roche has been approved today for sale in Europe by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

The drug was approved for use in the United States by the FDA in August 2011. (Press release about approval of Zelboraf)


Zelboraf is used to treat late state melanoma patients. Most melanoma has a high rate of being successfully treated if it is detected early enough. Unfortunately, about 1/5 of melanoma patients don’t catch melanoma early enough and the cancer spreads to other organs. These patients are potential candidates for Zelboraf.

Diagram of Zelboraf Blocking the BRAF Pathway

Zelboraf works by blocking BRAF mutations. BRAF mutations occur in approximately half of late stage melanoma patients and only those with the BRAF V600E mutation are approved for usage of Zelboraf. If you would like more detailed information about how the drug works from a scientific standpoint, please see this fact sheet.

The results being shown by Zelboraf are very promising so far. Late stage melanoma usually has a grim prognosis but this drug has been shown in some studies to double the length of time that these patients can live. According to an article in the Telegraph the drug also reduces pain and gives these patients their energy back, which is something that patients and doctors are very excited and happy about. 

People are posting their experiences in the Melanoma International Foundation Forum, such as this one story out of St. Louis Missouri, and are reporting personal success with Zelboraf. This drug is working miracles in the lives of many people. 

There are some downsides too, as with any medication. Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered the molecular basis for a high incidence of secondary skin cancers that develop among patients who have taken Zelboraf (Read more here). About a quarter of Zelboraf patients develop cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma that is treatable with surgery according to an article by Lindsay Ray. 

The best and most effective weapons against skin cancer are still prevention and early detection. Taking care of your skin on a daily basis is important to prevent skin cancer, sun screen and SPF protective clothing, like maximum SPF protective Sun Protection Zone clothing, are extremely important. Make sure to go to your dermatologist on a regular basis for check ups or when you see a new or changing mole on your skin. 

SPZ Maximum Sun Protective Clothing

SPZ Maximum SPF Clothing

There are also interesting new smart phone applications that can aid in detection of possibly questionable moles and freckles that are worth looking into. 

Sun Protection Zone is proud to help in preventing skin cancer and is proud to help in finding the solution too. We will be sponsoring the Miles Against Melanoma Walk in Missouri on June 2nd and would love for you to come support the cause. 

Zelboraf is a very exciting new tool for late stage melanoma patients. If you have any personal experiences with it or with skin cancer, we’d love to hear your stories.

Take care of your skin, yourselves and each other! 


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