Medical Marvels: Using immunotherapy for melanoma that spread to the brain

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Medical Marvels: Immunotherapy for melanoma that spread to the brain
A woman faces a sudden diagnosis of stage for melanoma.

NEW YORK -- During the winter of 2013, Meline Dickson was on a ski trip out West with her husband and some good friends. She got concerned when she began to have chest pains and decided to get checked out at a local medical center.

Much to her surprise, the doctors told her they could see cancerous lesions in her brain, lungs and liver. She had stage 4 melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.

Upon her immediate return to her Greenwich, Connecticut, home, she started her two-year medical journey at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center that included surgery, extensive stays in the intensive care unit, two craniotomies to remove tumors, and a type of radiation therapy called Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Since the cancer had traveled to her brain, Dickson's prognosis was bleak, and nothing was working to keep her cancer from spreading. That was until Dr. Richard Carvajal,director of the Melanoma Service at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, started her on immunotherapy.

By using experimental medications to boost the power of her immune system to kill cancer cells, the tumors stopped growing. Dickson has been symptom-free for three years and is looking forward to many more years with her husband and four children.

WABC-TV is proud to have taken you inside NewYork-Presbyterian for a look at some extraordinary stories that we call Medical Marvels. It's WABC's Emmy-nominated digital series exclusive to

Click here for more information on Dr. Richard Carvajal, director of Melanoma Service at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center