Anthony J. Olszanski, MD, RPh, vice chair, Department of Hematology/Oncology, director, Early Drug Development Phase I Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, discusses treatment advances in stage III melanoma.
Anthony J. Olszanski, MD, RPh, vice chair, Department of Hematology/Oncology, director, Early Drug Development Phase I Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, discusses advances made in the treatment of patients with stage III melanoma.
On the systemic front, there have been several recent FDA approvals in this space, Olszanski says. Traditionally, patients with stage III melanoma were treated with interferon, although oncologists were apprehensive to use this drug because it was considered to be highly toxic with limited efficacy. In 2011, the FDA approved ipilimumab (Yervoy), the first checkpoint inhibitor to be used in this space. Although this agent has demonstrated overall survival benefit, Olszanski says, the more recent rise of PD-1 inhibitors such as pembrolizumab (Keytruda) suggests that the field may be moving beyond ipilimumab.
In addition, the field also has MEK and BRAF inhibitors that can be used in combination with immunotherapy for patients with BRAF-mutant disease. Because these new therapies are generating practice-changing benefit, it becomes even more critical to properly diagnose patients with stage III disease. Olszanski concludes that the outlook is bright for patients with melanoma, not only for those with stage IV metastatic disease, but for those with early-stage disease as well.