By GILLIAN MOHNEY ABC NEWS
March 7, 2016 10:57 PM
Just months after finding out he had metastatic cancer, former President Jimmy Carter announced this weekend that his doctors have said he no longer needs cancer treatment thanks in part to a groundbreaking new kind of medication that trains the immune system to fight cancer tumors.
Carter announced in August that he had melanoma that had spread to his liver and brain. He underwent surgery, radiation therapy and a new kind of cancer treatment called immunotherapy to fight the disease.
Speaking at his church this weekend, Carter announced that his doctors are stopping his immunotherapy treatment
called pembrolizumab after they saw no signs of tumors over a period of three months. While he has no evidence of the disease, doctors will monitor Carter closely to see if the cancer reoccurs, a representative for the former president said.
“President Carter said today he did not need any more treatments, which he had August 2015 through February 2016, but will continue scans and resume treatment if necessary,” a spokeswoman for the Carter Center told ABC News in an email.
Drugs like pembrolizumab work by keeping the immune system from turning off. Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said such therapies, first presented in 2010, were the first new drugs for melanoma since the 1970s.
“Five years ago,” Lictenfeld said, “we would not have much to offer the president.”