For a while, melanoma has been a bit of a red-headed stepchild of oncology. While advances have improved survival in a number of cancers in recent years, little progress had been made in melanoma. At this year’s ASCO annual meeting, new melnoma treatments generated a lot of buzz.
These new drugs are exciting and important because of their activity — meaning that they have an impact and clinical benefit in patients with advanced melanoma.
Dr. Lynn Schuchter
Overall survival was 11.2 months in melanoma patients who received ipilimumab plus dacarbazine group and 9.1 months in the placebo plus dacarbazine group. The study was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2011 June 5 ;doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1104621). Ipilimumab was approved earlier this year as a first-line monotherapy treatment at a dosage of 3 mg/kg.
In another plenary presentation at ASCO, there was a 63% reduction in risk of death with vemurafenib, compared with dacarbazine alone, in metastatic melanoma patients with BRAF mutations. Vemurafenib is an investigational oral drug that inhibits BRAF kinase.
The read more about the results of these drug trials, check out the story in Skin & Allergy News
Photo by K. Wachter
From the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Fla.
This is my third year covering the annual ASCO meeting. It’s still overwhelming and adrenaline-producing with more than 30,000 attendees from around the world.
But I’m also starting to feel a part of it. I’ve followed some of the same studies every year, watching a small part of a specific type of cancer become better understood or witnessing better and longer responses with some very innovative therapies. For example, one of the first stories that I covered at ASCO was an investigational vaccine for glioblastoma multiforme aimed at epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) . Today I caught up on the latest results and the immune response is still looking impressive (abstract 2021).
It made me realize that we all—patients, researchers, physicians, nurses, other health professionals, and even medical writers—have an important part to play in fighting cancer.
—Kerri Wachter (follow me at ASCO on Twitter @knwachter, #ASCO)