ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Local cancer doctors assess what lies ahead for former president Jimmy Carter, now that he’s announced he is battling melanoma.

Carter says tests revealed cancer in four spots on his brain, and those are being tackled with targeted radiation.

Dr. Richard Bucholz is a neurosurgeon at St. Louis University Cancer Center.

“One of the things we commonly do is do focus radiation, called sterotactic radiosurgery,” Buckholz says, “where an intense beam of radiation is placed on each tumor. And that has been quite successful at controlling the specific spots seen. The problem is that once you see four spots, there are chances that there are other spots that you can’t see because they haven’t grown up yet.”

WashU and Siteman Cancer Center dermatology chief Dr. Lynn Cornelius says there has been a lot of progress in fighting melanoma, which is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer.

“Clearly we treat the life threatening areas, his brain metastasis,” Cornelius says. “But also one of the ideas is to have him in remission or even if there is stable disease or no growth of disease, that is also considered a decent end point.”

Both doctors say radiation treatments for this form of cancer have greatly improved in recent years.

Carter is also receiving a new type of drug called Keytruda, which ramps up the autoimmune system to fight the melanoma that has spread through the body.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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