Melanoma, the deadliest of the skin cancers, has been at the fore front of treatment innovation for some time. Scientists have long believed that, given a way to rev up a person’s natural immune system, melanoma could successfully be fought off without more aggressive types of intervention.

A new look at this has scientists peering through another door. Rather than trying to bolster a person’s immune system, there is some evidence that blocking T1 regulatory cells, cells that get in the way of a bodies natural defenses, may be the answer. One scientist likened the approach to permanent chemotherapy when your immune system is allowed the wage battle full time against the cancer. Chemotherapy with no side effects.

Melanoma is a particularly worrisome disease. Advanced melanoma has an average life expectancy of nine months, and less than 20% survive more than 2 years. In one study done using this new treatment, 24 of 25 patients were still living after 17 months.

Bottom line. Melanoma is a killer and anything that can be done to provide a better prognosis is bound to have an impact on life insurance underwriting. Right now melanoma is, rightly so, in the same underwriting classification as some of the other high mortality cancers. It can take as long as 10 years after successful treatment to get back to standard rates. A large swing in the survival rate could change all that.