Researchers reported a number of important findings in melanoma treatment at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Neoadjuvant therapy of benefit in stage III melanoma

Pooled data from six trials showed that neoadjuvant treatment with immunotherapy or targeted therapy was associated with a high clinical response rate in stage III melanoma. The researchers evaluated data from neoadjuvant therapy trials of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy or anti-BRAF/MEK-targeted therapy.

What Patients Need to Know

PD-1 inhibitors target proteins that can prevent the body’s immune system from attacking tumors. BRAF and MEK inhibitors target proteins that exist in melanomas that have a mutation of the BRAF gene.

Post-surgery therapy with ipilimumab reduces risk of recurrence in stage III melanoma

An analysis of findings from the phase III EORTC trial showed that the immunotherapy ipilimumab, given post-surgery, resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the risk of recurrence or death for patients with stage III melanoma, as compared with placebo.

What Patients Need to Know

Ipilimumab, which is given intravenously, seeks out and locks onto CTLA-4, a protein that normally helps keep immune system cells (called T-cells) in check. By blocking the action of CTLA-4, ipilimumab is thought to help the immune system destroy melanoma cells.

Immunotherapy combination studied in metastatic melanoma with brain metastases

According to data from the phase II CheckMate-204 trial, the combination of the immunotherapies nivolumab and ipilimumab led to durable (long-lasting) responses in people with metastatic melanoma who had asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) brain metastases.

What Patients Need to Know

Brain metastases begin as cancer in a different part of the body, spreading to the brain over time. More than half of people with metastatic melanoma will experience at least one brain metastasis during the course of their disease