Ipilimumab Prolongs Progression-Free Survival as Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma

Mon, 2014-06-02

Statement from Tim Turnham,
Executive Director, Melanoma Research Foundation,
Regarding Ipilimumab as Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma

Today Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMS) announced the results of an adjuvant study involving melanoma drug ipilimumab (more commonly known as Yervoy). The Phase 3 study found that ipilimumab in the adjuvant setting prolonged progression-free survival. This is the first drug for melanoma patients that may offer a real chance of preventing a recurrence of this deadly cancer.

Melanoma is notorious for recurring, but the standard of care for patients who have had their tumors removed has been to watch and wait, and hope the cancer doesn't come back. Now, for the first time there is a treatment that has a real chance of lowering the risk for recurrence. Unfortunately the dose used during this study was a higher dose of the drug than is commonly used. This leads to more side effects and may limit the number of patients who can benefit from this development.
 
Over the past few years, several treatment options have become available for people with advanced melanoma. Many patients have found tremendous benefit from these treatments, some have been told by their oncologists that they have “no evidence of disease” (or NED), the closest they can come to being “cancer-free.” But we’ve known for years that melanoma often reappears. 
 
Ipilimumab was approved by the FDA in 2010 for the treatment of metastatic or unresectable melanoma, but this is the first study examining its efficacy in the adjuvant setting. 
 
For too many years, people have had too few of treatment options – most of which simply left patients questioning whether or not the melanoma would return. This news from BMS, coming off the culmination of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, IL, offers hope for high-risk melanoma patients with limited treatment options in the adjuvant setting.
 

Media Contact: 

Lauren Smith Dyer
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202-870-8827 (M) 
 
Jennifer Glicoes
202-591-4048 (T)
703-899-4657 (M)
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About Melanoma
 
Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and can strike men and women of all ages, all races and skin types. With a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, nearly 77,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2014, resulting in almost 10,000 deaths. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old. 
 
The majority of melanomas occur on the skin; in fact, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma can also occur in the eye (ocular, or uveal melanoma), in mucous membranes (mucosal melanoma), or even beneath fingernails or toenails. 
 
About the Melanoma Research Foundation
 
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org. Find the MRF on Facebook and Twitter.