ASCO 2011: melanoma highlights

Written by Victoria Louise Crump-Haill – Digital Strategist/Account Director‏

We were busy in Chicago at the 2011 annual congress filming for ecancer and running a couple of advisory boards for one of our lovely clients. Melanoma was once again one of the major news stories, with more good news for patients with this terrible disease; we now have two new drugs that has demonstrated an overall survival in patients with advanced disease.

We gathered an eminent faculty European melanoma experts, including Prof Alexander Eggermont, Dr Caroline Robert, Prof John Haanen and Prof Reinhard Dummer to debate The changing landscape of melanoma therapies.

The first presentation discussed was a Phase III study demonstrating a statistically significant survival improvement in patients with unresectable, stage III or IV melanoma treated with ipilimumab. A reduction in risk for death and higher estimated overall survival was seen in patients receiving dacarbazine plus ipilimumab when compared to dacarbazine plus placebo. A second major finding was the Phase III BRIM 3 study which compared vemurafenib with dacarbazine in previously untreated patients with unresectable Stage IIIc or Stage IV melanoma. This trial has demonstrated that the BRAF targeting drug vemurafenib halts tumour growth or causes tumour shrinkage in almost half of patients and drastically improves survival. The final study was the EORTC 18991 trial which demonstrated that long-term pegylated interferon-á2b therapy had a significant and sustained impact on relapse free survival in stage III melanoma patients, especially those with micro metastases. The panel conclude by outlining the optimal treatment schedules for different melanoma patient sub groups.

You can see the expert panel on ecancer here.

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