Former US President Jimmy Carter spoke plainly when he said Thursday that doctors had found “four spots of melanoma” on his brain. The 90-year-old former president was relaxed and matter-of-fact as he talked about the uncertainty he faces. “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” he said.
Flanked by family members and friends at a news conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta, he detailed the treatments that he has already begun and will continue in coming weeks, including radiation and the IV infusions of a new type of anti-cancer drug that tries to harness the body’s immune system to fight the disease.
The brain lesions, each no larger that 2 millimeters, were discovered after an Aug. 3 operation at Emory University to remove a tumor from his liver. During the surgery, Carter said, doctors suspected that the cancer had originated in another part of his body and performed full-body scans.
Gershenwald, the medical director of the Melanoma and Skin Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, said that, historically, a melanoma patient diagnosed with metastases in the liver and brain would face a very poor prognosis.
Carter said he is receiving one of the newest drugs in the anti-cancer arsenal, pembrolizumab, better known as Keytruda. The drug, the first in a promising new class of medications called immunotherapy, has been on the market for 11 months.