Systemic therapy in advanced melanoma: integrating targeted therapy and immunotherapy into clinical practice

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Here we review the results from relevant phase III trials and discuss treatment strategies for challenging subgroups of melanoma patients.

Recent findings

Targeted therapies induce rapid responses in the majority of BRAF-mutant patients, however, 50% of these responders will develop resistance within approximately 13 months. In contrast, inhibitors of checkpoints on T cells, particularly inhibitors of PD-1, induce responses in 40–55% of patients (monotherapy or whenever combined with anti-CTLA-4), and these responses tend to be durable. Data from subgroup analyses of large clinical trials, as well as patient-centred factors, help guide clinicians in their choice of first-line therapy.

Summary

Immune checkpoint inhibitors and MAP kinase pathway-targeted therapies have revolutionized the management of advanced melanoma, and significantly prolong the overall survival of patients with this disease. The median overall survival is over 2 years for both anti-PD-1-based therapy and combined BRAF and MEK inhibition. Without head-to-head comparison data for either therapy, choice of first-line drug treatment is difficult.

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