Melanoma Treatment - Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a form of treatment in which drugs (or other substances) are developed with the goal of destroying cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact. These drugs are designed to interfere with the specific molecules that are driving the growth and spread of the tumor. Because they are “targeted” to the tumor, these therapies may be more effective and associated with fewer side effects compared to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A targeted therapy approach allows the classification of melanoma into different “subtypes” based on the genetic profile of the tumor. This facilitates personalized treatment as patients receive drugs based on the unique genetic profile, or subtype, of their tumor.
Approved Targeted Therapies
- Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) was approved by the FDA in 2011 for the treatment of BRAF V600E mutant melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery. This drug is only approved for those patients who have tested positive for the BRAF mutation.
- Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of BRAF V600 mutant melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery. This drug is only approved for those patients who have tested positive for the BRAF mutation. It is not indicated for the treatment of patients with wild-type BRAF mutation.
- Trametinib (Mekinist) was approved by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. It is a first-in-class MEK inhibitor approved for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma. It is not indicated for the treatment of patients who have received a prior BRAF inhibitor therapy.
- The combination of dabrafenib plus trametinib received accelerated approval by the FDA in 2014 for demonstrating dkurable responses in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanomas that carry the BRAF V600 E or V600K mutation. Randomized trials are in progress to assess the ability of the combination to improve time to progression and overall survival compared with dabrafenib alone.
Find Melanoma Targeted Therapies
Members of the MRF Scientific Advisory Committee have participated in efforts to link melanoma subtypes with proposed treatment guidelines, including specific tests, drugs and clinical trials. The Melanoma Research Foundation has partnered with CollabRx to offer you a free, personalized resource to help you learn about molecular tests and potential treatments that may be an option for you. Patients, physicians and researchers can learn more by using the Targeted Therapy Finder tool to find relevant therapies for metastatic melanoma targeted to the patient's tumor. Patients are encouraged to use this tool and share the results with their doctor when making treatment decisions.
Another tool you may find useful is My Cancer Genome. My Cancer Genome is a free, online, personalized cancer treatment and decision-making resourse for patients, physicians, caregivers and researchers. It will provide you with up-to-date information on what mutations can make cancers grow, as well as related therapeutic implications. My Cancer Genome is a one-stop tool that matches tumor mutations to therapies, making information accessible and convenient for busy clinicians.