NEW cancer drugs which shrink tumours have been hailed as a "game changer" in the fight against the deadly disease.
The two drugs have been particularly effective in treating skin cancer, which kills an average of two Irish people every week.
An international trial on 945 patients - including Irish sufferers - found treatment with ipilimumab and nivolumab stopped cancer advancing for nearly a year in 58pc of cases.
Cancer specialist Professor John Crown has warned of a "melanoma emergency" in Ireland, with a tripling of the incidence of the disease in the past 15 years.
But he confirmed the results of these drug trials in treating secondary malignant melanoma are "dramatic".
There is also hope these "immunotherapies'' will provide a breakthrough in the treatment of various other forms of the disease including lung, bowel, ovarian and womb cancers.
Commenting on the research Professor Crown said while more than 50pc of patients had major tumour shrinkage, approximately 20pc had "complete disappearance."
"Most oncologists believe that a new era of immune system-based treatments has been initiated," he said.