Carter Says He Is Cancer-Free After Taking KeytrudaTreatment & Doctors
Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource
The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.
Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.
More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.
About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com
- Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
- Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."LashawnMesothelioma patient’s daughter
How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article
Povtak, T. (2020, December 22). Carter Says He Is Cancer-Free After Taking Keytruda. Asbestos.com. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2015/12/11/jimmy-carter-cancer-keytruda/
Povtak, Tim. "Carter Says He Is Cancer-Free After Taking Keytruda." Asbestos.com, 22 Dec 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2015/12/11/jimmy-carter-cancer-keytruda/.
Povtak, Tim. "Carter Says He Is Cancer-Free After Taking Keytruda." Asbestos.com. Last modified December 22, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2015/12/11/jimmy-carter-cancer-keytruda/.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is crediting his recent rebound from melanoma cancer to the immunotherapy drug Keytruda, the subject of a phase II clinical trial involving malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Keytruda, known generically as pembrolizumab, is manufactured by Merck.
Carter, 91, made his pronouncement earlier this week at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, where he teaches Sunday school.
He announced his melanoma cancer diagnosis in August after doctors discovered tumors on his brain and liver. He underwent surgery to his liver and radiation treatments for his brain, along with taking Keytruda.
“My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones,” Carter announced Sunday to a rousing round of applause. “I will continue to receive regular, three-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Keytruda in 2014 to treat melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that often migrates to other organs, much like it did with Carter. In 2015, the FDA also approved the drug for colorectal cancer and certain lung cancers. Oncologists everywhere are excited about its potential.
Only One Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
There are more than 100 different clinical trials today testing the effectiveness of Keytruda with various cancers and other diseases. The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center is conducting the only trial involving pleural mesothelioma. It started in May with considerable fanfare.
“This is really exciting,” University of Chicago mesothelioma specialist Hedy Kindler, who is conducting the trial, said earlier this year. “This is an exciting class of drugs. Not only do they shrink the tumors, but they have a sustained and prolonged response.”
Kindler is recruiting new patients, hoping for a trial size of at least 65 and attracting attention nationally.
A smaller study of mesothelioma and Keytruda was completed early in 2015 with impressive results at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center. Pembrolizumab shrank or stopped the tumor growth in 19 of the 25 patients who received it, according to researchers there.
Pembrolizumab, a laboratory immune protein, blocks a particular gene (PD-1) that prevents a person’s own immune system from killing the tumor cells. The drug allows a patient’s immune system to recognize the tumor cells as foreign and attack them without harming the healthy cells.
Works Best in Combination with Other Treatments
Unlike typical chemotherapy, pembrolizumab has minimal side effects, and patients have received it well. The FDA has not approved any second-line treatments beyond standard therapy for mesothelioma. Pembrolizumab is expected to fill that void.
Many doctors believe immunotherapy drugs like pembrolizumab are used most effectively in combination with other drugs or other treatments such as surgery and radiation.
Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, told NBC News that Carter’s recent good fortune likely stems from the synergy between the drug, surgery and radiation.
“It’s always tough to label someone cancer-free because there may be cells that doctors haven’t detected, but it’s possible that removing the mass in his liver several months ago allowed the immune system, along with radiation and the drug Keytruda, to fight the lesions in his brain.”