Bob Buckley explores immunotherapy

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When you meet Janet Mazzurco, you soon find out you should not be able too.

“The truth is, I should absolutely not be here,” she’ll tell you. “I was told I had 120 days to live and to get my business in order.”

That’s because she developed the deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

“Prior to immunotherapy, people just, people just died from this disease,” says her oncologist, Frances Collichio, at UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center.

At one point, with traditional treatment, Janet thought she’d beaten it.

“Not only did it reoccur,” said Dr. Collichio, “but it recurred in her brain and in her lungs.”

More than a dozen tumors – and in her brain, too.

Dr. Mohamed K. Mohamed was her physician at Cone Health. He is not just an MD, but has a Ph.D. as well, which gives him a broader view of treating the disease and he says the entire field of oncology is beginning to shift from the somewhat shotgun approach of chemotherapy to something new.

“Look at it this way,” Dr. Mohamed said. “You want to enter your house and you don't have the key, so you just destroy the door, okay? The new approach to lung cancer is you find that key.”

And that key is a new treatment called, “Immunotherapy.”

“Everyone I tell that I've had immunotherapy, they say, 'What is that?'” says Janet.

“It's the biggest change I've seen in 26 years of doing oncology,” says Dr. Collichio.

See how it works, in this edition of the Buckley Report.