MPIP: Melanoma Patients Information Page

The MPIP is the oldest and largest community of people affected by melanoma hosted through the Melanoma Research Foundation. It is designed to provide support and information to caregivers, patients, family and friends. Once you have been touched by melanoma—either as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient—you become part of a community. It is not a community anyone joins willingly. But if you must be part of this group, you will find no better place to find the tools you need in your journey with this cancer, and the friends who can make that journey more bearable.

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Glaxo’s Melanoma Cocktail Slows Cancer in Study

By Makiko Kitamura and Robert Langreth - May 16, 2012 6:00 PM ET

GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s combination of two experimental melanoma medicines slowed cancer progression with few skin complications in an early clinical trial, a result that suggests the combo may have fewer side effects than existing single-drug treatments.

Patients taking Glaxo’s dabrafenib and trametinib together had a lower incidence of rash and skin lesions than previously reported with Roche’s Zelboraf, according to a study of 77 patients with advanced melanoma, the most-severe form of skin cancer. The study, funded by London-based Glaxo, was released today ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting that starts June 1 in Chicago.

“Not only are the two drugs causing shrinkage of the cancer, but we’re seeing that a second anti-cancer therapy may actually suppress the side effects of the first,” said Jeffrey Weber, an oncologist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, in a statement. “So far it is looking good.”

If the Glaxo combination succeeds in final-stage trials, it would compete with Zelboraf, a targeted therapy cleared for sale in the U.S. in August. Both Zelboraf and Glaxo’s dabrafenib work by blocking BRAF, a mutant gene that spurs cancer cell growth in about half of melanoma patients. Glaxo’s trametinib is designed to thwart a related protein called MEK, which helps tumors resist an assault on BRAF.

Adding the MEK drug may reduce a signature side effect of BRAF drugs like Zelboraf, the development of non-melanoma skin cancer, while possibly boosting efficacy, said Weber, a study leader, in a telephone interview. Weber has consulted for Glaxo and Roche. (ROG)

Non-Melanoma Cancers

About 15 to 30 percent of melanoma patients treated with Zelboraf and other BRAF inhibitors develop non-melanoma skin cancers, scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research said in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January. The drugs speed a type of skin malignancy known as squamous-cell carcinoma in patients who may have gotten the cancer anyway, they said.

Only 3 percent of a larger group of patients in the Glaxo combo study, which also included other solid tumors, developed squamous cell carcinoma, and 5 percent developed premalignant lesions called actinic keratoses, Weber said.

Across various doses, the combination delayed progression of the disease by 7.4 months. In the high-dose level, which will be studied in further trials, the two-drug therapy delayed the progression of the disease by 10.8 months, Weber said.

Roche Comparison

Roche’s Zelboraf delayed melanoma tumors from progressing for 6.8 months in one early trial and 5.3 months in a final-stage trial.

“It would look clearly superior to the figure we have seen” with the Roche drug, Weber said on a conference call with reporters. “It is a very impressive record by any criteria.”

Charlotte Arnold, a spokeswoman for Basel, Switzerland-based Roche, said in an e-mail that “it is not appropriate” to compare data from Zelboraf’s approval trials to results from the early study of Glaxo’s combination, as it did not directly compare the agents. Zelboraf has been proven to extend survival of melanoma patients.

Glaxo plans to start a final-stage trial “as early as this month” said Melinda Stubbee, a spokeswoman for the British drugmaker, in a phone interview. The trial would compare the combination to Glaxo’s dabrafenib alone in melanoma patients.

Glaxo also has also been studying each drug separately for melanoma and will seek regulatory approval of both compounds individually later this year.

Melanoma strikes 68,000 Americans each year, according to the American Cancer Society. While patients with early stage disease respond well to treatment, the five-year survival rate for those with cancer that has spread is 15 percent.

Advocate for your own treatment.. Stage 4 Melanoma NED Surgery,Radiation, Temodar 300Mg July 2009-March 2010, then "Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Human Monoclonal Antibody MDX-1106 and Vaccine Therapy"

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eerye70's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/21/2012 - 1:02pm
Replies by: eerye70, Anonymous, Tim--MRF

I had a melanoma in situ diagnosed in november on my right shoulder. I have tons of atypical moles. I am so spotted. I did some mole photography to keep track of them all for change. Well, i have a mole, on my right leg, it is no bigger than the tip of a pencil lead, that is dark with a shadow to the side of it. I don't know how to describe it. I have this mole and then to the side of it is a softer, paler shadow of a mole. almost as if the mole was drawn in charcoal and then smeared. It seems to have gotten darker to me. and Now when i run my finger over it, i can feel it ever so slightly. So i have called the dermotologist and they will be seeing me on monday. My regular appointment was at the end of the month anyway, but i cannot imagine waiting until then. The truth is, i am going to lose my mind until monday as well. I almost wish i had a dermoscope just to peer at it a bit myself. Not that it would do any good, but it makes me nervous. Add to that, i have a small pea size lump in my groin on the same side. Please pray that this is all something routine and not melanoma rearing its ugly head. I feel as though i am going to throw up between now and then. Debbie

Time to put on your big girl panties and deal with it!

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noisy77's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 11/8/2016 - 12:12pm

Hello - 

Just wondering if anyone has acral lentiginous melanoma ?  How did you approach treatment? 

My mom has stage 3c acral lentiginous melanoma of the big toe.  She just completed radiation of the groin and curious to how others approached.

Thank you.



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Roxy1453's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 8:59am

I had my PET Scan today and there are no new spots and the one I have behind my knee is shrinking!! I don't have to go back for 3 months!! This is such great news, I am on cloud nine! It's been a very long 7 years of fighting!!

Don't ever give up fighting!


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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janward's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 11:07am
Replies by: Karin L

I have completed 4 infusions of Yervoy.  The PET scans shows a favorable response to the treatment.  I do, however, have immune-mediated neuropathy which is getting more and more painful.  Anyone have these symptoms?  What treatment have you tried for the neuropathy and how succesful was i t?

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Bonnets's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 11:09am
Replies by: Karin L

Sooo pleased to report that the 3 spots my hubby had bioed last week, were all NEG! Jean

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fighting4dad's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 5/21/2012 - 3:51am


My dad (stage 4) was supposed to start zelboraf yesterday, but at the appt. Dr. recommended they delay starting treatment until disease begins to progress again. (He was on Yervoy last fall and saw reduction in size of mets).  Has anyone heard of delaying? Supposedly Dr. told Dad that if Zelboraf doesn't/stops working there won't be much left to try, so better to wait and extend his life later.  This doesn't really make sense to me so I am looking for others with this experience, or maybe I should be trying to get Dad to get another opinion?

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TeresaK's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 7:31am
Replies by: Anonymous

Can anyone recommend where I could send my melanoma in situ biopsy for a second pathology exam in Phx / Arizona area?


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bikerwife's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/15/2012 - 8:38am

Had Dr. Appt Friday with Dr. Shirai tumors on body are still shrinking. We had gamma knife follow today. Dr. Generte walked in door with his team and said fanstatic. He had 5 mets they are gone only shadows and no new mets. Don't scan again for 2 months.

God has blessed our Drs with amazing healing hands. I know we have a long way to go but for know we dance.

I pray for each one of you every nite. May God bless you all. My husband is a walking miracle.

What God leads u to he will. Lead you through

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blairashley's picture
Replies 16
Last reply 6/3/2012 - 12:31am

Hi --

I'm going under on Friday to have all right underarm nodes removed after my sentinel node was positive for spitzoid cells.  What can I expect?  I know I'll have a drain.  Sorry for the vague/general question, but all I can find are lymphadema & other horror stories via Google.  Anyone care to share their experience? 

How does recovery compare to wide-excision + SLNB?  I only rested for 3 days after that one, although my incisions are still sore 3 months later.

Also, I am supposed to fly in mid-June... will that be safe?  I'll ask my doc of course... just curious now.


Blair, newly IIIA

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H555's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 5/15/2012 - 7:25am
Replies by: Richard_K, Fen, lhaley, Donna M.

I'm a little embarassed posting this when so many of us are dealing with incredible challenges. I'm stage IV, on Zelboraf for about 5 weeks now. just beginning to move back toward full doses after cutting back to half dose about 3 weeks ago due to a massive skin rash and bumps. My mel is in my lungs and since I've begun Zel I can tell the "masses and nodules" are significantly smaller. scans schedule for 2 weeks from now.


I have a full size truck and we travel to and from Seattle about once a month. it's generally a 4 hour drive. last time i got a mild sunburn on my neck from sun coming thru the drivers window even with SPF 50 sunscreeen. Has anyone gone to a tinted drivers window and how dark does the tinting have to be? Oregon has a law that requires that the window be no darker than 65% of total light transfer. thank you

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deardad's picture
Replies 14
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 10:21am

Well since the progression on Zelboraf, dad has 6 brain mets diagnosed last week and further progression through the body. He finished his first round of Temadol and has just started to experience dull headache. Feel like I'm sinking......I'm so worried I'm going to loose him soon. WBR is scheduled for Monday, but haven't read anything too promising about that. Since off the trial I feel the hospital have just given up on him, we called to tell them he was having headaches and they haven't bothered to get back to us.

Dad has a couple of months supply of Zelboraf left, and Im wondering if we should reinduce him down the track? I hear someone in the UK did this and it worked (for how long I don't know).

The biggest problems is the brain, any advice?

Feel very sad, don't want to loose him.

Nahmi from Melbourne

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 12
Last reply 6/16/2014 - 9:38am
Replies by: pathdoc, Anonymous, jnaakins, natasha, shellebrownies, Janner

I have now read 4 stories lately about in situ that has spread to organs and I'm feeling very afraid.  What I thought was not a big deal has suddenly become a very big deal and I feel my mortality is threatened.  My Doctor has even said, this WILL NOT kill you.  Now I wonder if she is competent.  Is there certain pathological traits that will make some melanoma in situ more likely to spread?  For those that did have cancer go elsewhere after being told it was incapable of spread, what were the traits on your path report and did you get a second look?  Did you have regression or was there a possible part of your lesion that was deeper?  Was it read by a dermatopathologist?  Thank you for the information.

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Lilylove414's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 5/21/2012 - 12:51pm

Hey y'all! So in a few weeks I'm taking my nephew to the pool, because I promised. What kind of sunscreen should I use? There's so many kinds and I'm confused. Gah!

If God is for us, who can be against us?

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Roxy1453's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 5/16/2012 - 4:04pm
Replies by: imissmommy2003, Anonymous, macylewis, aldakota22

I just wanted to wish all of the warriors fighting this beast a Happy Mother's Day! Keep fighting and have a great day!

I have a PET Scan on Tues. and hope to be NED! Keeping my fingers crossed and saying a lot of prayers. It's been a long 7 years!


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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