Melanoma Patient Advocate Perspective: Updates From ASCO 2019

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Topics include: Treatments

What’s the latest news in melanoma treatment research? How do breakthroughs in clinical trials apply to real-world practice? Tune in to hear melanoma patient advocate T.J. Sharpe share encouraging immunotherapy updates from the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference. T.J. also explains how staying plugged in to the melanoma pipeline helped guide his treatment decisions and gives advice for others considering options for therapy. 

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Hey, everyone. I'm here with T.J. Sharpe, a long?time friend and partner at Patient Power.  T.J., you're a melanoma survivor.  

T.J. Sharpe:

I am.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Tell us why you're here at ASCO.  

T.J. Sharpe:

I've been lucky enough to come to ASCO the last few years as part of the press.  I was a blog and realized that there was so much information here as a patient that we don't get to see.  There are 40,000 people here, and it's almost overwhelming the amount of cancer research and everything that goes with it.  

So as a patient and as an advocate I come here to try to get the information and process it in a patient?friendly way.  So all those releases you see that come out in the press I try to get a little bit of that insight and give it a human twist.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

So can you give us that human twist from the melanoma perspective of what's come out of ASCO this year?  

T.J. Sharpe:

This year it's been—it's been fairly light this year at ASCO.  The oral sessions aren't until Tuesday, but a lot of the talk this year has been about how do we apply what we've learned in the clinic to the real world practice, what sequence to put different treatments in, how to combine immunotherapies, and really what the next step is for a patient who may have failed the newly approved immunotherapies that have come through the last few years that have been such big news.  Well, what do we do next if that doesn't work?  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

So you're stage IV melanoma patient, correct?  

T.J. Sharpe:

Yes.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

And so how have you used the information from ASCO in the years past to kind of tailor to your own treatment and your own knowledge?  

T.J. Sharpe:

It ironically kind of worked the other way around.  I've been fortunate enough to know a number of melanoma researchers, and I've used them to guide me in my decision?making.  And after I would switch treatments or after I stopped my treatment, the data would come out six months, 12 months, 18 months later that validated all the things that they told me.  

So I was fortunate as a patient that I had access to really good doctors, researchers that were doing great research, and it took that much longer for the validation of that research to come out.  Part of what I do as a patient is try to bring that insight that I get from the researchers in the melanoma world out to patients faster because they need to make decisions too.  So we shouldn't have to wait once a year to be find out what the next good thing is for a melanoma patient like myself.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

So do you have anything, key take?aways for our melanoma patients out there today?  

T.J. Sharpe:

Yes.  There are a lot of key take?aways.  Probably the biggest one is there are a ton of things coming through in the immunotherapy world in combination. We've seen with the anti?PD?1 drugs just an explosion of checkpoint inhibitor combinations, and for lack of a better word, they seem to be throwing everything at anything that they've found that might have a significant effect with one of the immunotherapy drugs they are testing, and there's a ton of Phase I trials.  

So if you're a melanoma patient and you feel like you might not have any other options, make sure you ask about clinical trials to understand what is coming through in research that might be something that would work for you.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Right. Thank you so much, T.J.  And, you know, I think, T.J., you're probably the epitome of Patient Power's knowledge can be the best medicine.  

T.J. Sharpe:

Thank you very much.  It's great to be a part of Patient Power.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on August 23, 2019