OncLive: Targeted Therapies Yield Most Promising Results: A New Era in Melanoma Treatment Has Begun

Melanoma is one of the most frequent cancers; more than 2 million Americans are treated for skin cancer annually. Although in its earlier stages, it can be easily cured by removal of the skin lesion, “once melanoma metastasizes to distant sites, it is highly resistant to therapy”, said Lynn M. Schuchter, MD, professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Melanoma caused an estimated 8700 deaths in 2010. Indeed, chemotherapy for advanced melanoma has yielded poor 5-year survivals for patients with metastatic disease — 16% of those with metastatic melanoma survive 5 years post-diagnosis. Dacarbazine has long been the only drug approved by the FDA for treating metastatic melanoma, and it is often ineffective. In other words, the prognosis for patients whose melanoma has spread is generally poor, and very few therapies existed before 2011 that could make more than a marginal difference. Only recently have investigational products emerged that, alone or in combination, seem to yield positive responses in some patients.

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