The role of taxanes in the treatment of metastatic melanoma

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The management of patients with metastatic malignant melanoma remains difficult. Conventional chemotherapy has been disappointingly ineffective. Dacarbazine (DTIC) is considered to be one of the most active single agents with a response rate of approximately 15–20%. Many patients who initially respond to treatment subsequently relapse. Clearly, there is a need for improvement, and the evaluation of new agents is warranted. This article reviews current phase II studies of single-agent taxanes and their combinations in patients with metastatic melanoma, and examines the likely impact of taxanes on treatment strategies. Response rates from phase II trials with single-agent taxanes vary from 3.3% to 17%. Prolonged durations of disease control are observed. Combinations of taxanes with DTIC, temozolomide, cisplatin, carboplatin and tamoxifen have demonstrated response rates from 12% to 41%, suggesting that they are at least as effective as various other combination regimens. Encouraging results have been produced in the second-line metastatic setting. Taxanes, both as single agents and in combinations, may be a treatment option for some patients with metastatic melanoma, especially in the second-line setting.

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