The role of taxanes in the treatment of metastatic melanoma

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Abstract

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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