Sinclair Cares: Treating skin cancer with immune therapy

George Dodds has been fighting melanoma since 1962. (WOAI-TV)

July is UV Awareness Month. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.

"Let me tell you. I watch these kids on these spring breaks, that kind of thing. And laying around in the sun," said George Dodds, a skin cancer patient. "I said, look at that. That's cancer coming on there. They're just asking for it."

Dodds has been fighting melanoma since 1962.

"My exposure started when I was called to active duty in the Air Force," Dodds said. "When you're out in places like Arizona, Morocco - you've got to be outside."

Five decades and six surgeries later, Dodds lost his ear to melanoma -- and the cancer keeps spreading, most recently to his lung.

"He said, 'This one we can't take out with surgery.' And I thought, 'Oh, brother,'" Dodds said. "He said we've got a new medicine we're going to try."

Dr. Anthony Tolcher runs Next Oncology, an arm of Texas Oncology.

"Our goal is to advance and accelerate new drug development for the treatment of cancer," Tolcher said.

Doctors here gave Dodds a new type of treatment.

"An immune therapy called ipilimumab," Tolcher said. "These drugs work by turning your immune system on so they go after the cancer."

The results are promising.

"This is a fascinating turn in cancer treatment because for the first time we can reliably cause the immune system to attack and reject a cancer," Tolcher said.

Each scan showed the melanoma in Dodds's lung shrink, and shrink some more.

"I went back there and he said, 'It's gone.' And I couldn't believe it," Dodds said.

At 87, Dodds keeps beating the odds.

"Saved my life, I guess," he said.

But take it from him, fun in the sun is no fun.

"Cancer is a terrible disease," Dodds said.

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