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Carter's team of doctors at Emory Health Care includes Dr. Walter Curran Jr., who runs Emory's Winship Cancer Institute. Treatments for melanoma have improved tremendously recently, and Carter's prospects are good even at the age of 90, Curran said. But he cautioned against the idea that Carter can be "cured."
"We're not looking for a cure in patients who have a disease like melanoma that has spread," Curran said. "The goal is control and to have a good quality of life."
Carter said he thought the cancer was only in his liver and was removed with surgery on Aug. 3, but an MRI exam that same afternoon showed the spots on his brain. Carter said he went home that night thinking he had only a few weeks to live, but found himself feeling "surprisingly at ease."
He said he planned to keep on top of a push led by the Carter Center to eradicate Guinea worm, of which there 3.5 million cases in 1986 but only 11 through the end of July this year. Guinea worm is on track to become the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox. “I would like to see Guinea worm die before I do,” he said. He didn’t rule out a planned trip to Nepal in November for Habitat for Humanity, though he said he would consult with his doctors on how much work and travel he can manage.
Former US president Jimmy Carter says his brain cancer has disappeared. His doctors found four small “spots of melanoma”, he said in August, after an operation to remove a tumour from his liver. It sounded like a fatal diagnosis at the time, but the former president said then he was “perfectly at ease with whatever comes”. And now it appears to have gone.
It is not a miracle, however much it may sound that way. The former president’s doctors believe the melanoma – normally a skin cancer but sometimes forming inside the body – was the primary cancer, and that it had spread to the liver. Carter was given pembrolizumab, one of the most exciting new drugs in cancer treatment today.
Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda in the United States, is one of the first immunotherapy drugs. Instead of killing cancer cells, these drugs boost the immune system to do the job. The theory behind immunotherapy has been around for decades, but it is only in very recent years that scientists have been able to put it into practice with, so far, just a couple of remarkably successful drugs.