Friday, October 13, 2017

Adjuvant treatments in melanoma - They WORK!!! Now, let's make sure people can get them!!!!!

It was certainly good news when the FDA (FINALLY!!!) approved ipi as an adjuvant treatment for melanoma. works!  ASCO 2017: Ipi 3 mg vs 10 mg in advanced melanoma and as adjuvant

We also KNOW that anti-PD-1 works EVEN BETTER, with fewer side effects, as an adjuvant treatment in melanoma. The trial that I and my fellow ratties started in 2010 proved that...and so have other studies since:  Nivo better than ipi as adjuvant treatment for melanoma! Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!

We also KNOW that BRAF/MEK inhibitors are extremely effective as an adjuvant therapy in patients with BRAF positive melanoma:  2016: Straight Outta Boston!!! Latest melanoma research ~
One abstract included in that link notes:

Stage IIIB/C treated with adjuvant BRAFi = 100% 6 month survival vs 28.6% with standard care!!!

Treatment with neoadjuvant + adjuvant dabrafenib and trametinib (D+T) is associated with improved relapse-free survival (RFS) versus standard of care (SOC) therapy in patients with high-risk resectable BRAF-mutant melanoma.  Amaria, et al.

The treatment of stage IV melanoma has been revolutionized by targeted therapy and immune checkpoint blockade, and there is a strong rationale to evaluate these agents in earlier stages of disease. The current SOC in patients (pts) with high-risk resectable melanoma (stage IIIB/IIIC) is upfront surgery +/- adjuvant therapy, but relapse rates are high. We hypothesized that treatment with neoadjuvant + adjuvant D+T in this population would result in lower relapse rates compared to SOC. Methods: We conducted a prospective randomized clinical trial (NCT02231775) in pts with resectable Stage IIIB/C or oligometastatic stage IV BRAF-mutant melanoma. Pts were randomized in a 1:2 fashion to SOC (Arm A) or neo + adjuvant D+T (Arm B, 8 wks neoadjuvant + 44 wks adjuvant). Planned enrollment was 84 pts. Primary endpoint was RFS. Results: Randomization was halted after 21 pts were enrolled (arm A=7, arm B=14). Arms were well matched for gender and stage of disease, though pts in arm A were younger. Perioperative complication rates were similar and toxicity in arm B was manageable. At week 8 the RECIST response rate with D+T was 77% and the pathologic complete response (pCR) rate was 58%. Early analysis revealed a significantly higher RFS in the D+T arm over SOC, with 6-month survival estimated at 100% in Arm B and 28.6% in Arm A, leading to trial closure. Conclusions: Treatment with neoadjuvant + adjuvant D+T is well tolerated, results in high clinical response and pCR rates, and markedly improves RFS in pts with high-risk resectable metastatic melanoma. Correlative analyses are underway to characterize mechanisms of response and resistance to neo + adjuvant D+T.  

Now...there's this:  

Adjuvant Dabrafenib plus Trametinib in Stage III BRAF-Mutated Melanoma. Long, Hauschild, Santinami, et al. N Engl J Med. 2017 Sep 10. 

Combination therapy with the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib plus the MEK inhibitor trametinib improved survival in patients with advanced melanoma with BRAF V600 mutations. We sought to determine whether adjuvant dabrafenib plus trametinib would improve outcomes in patients with resected, stage III melanoma with BRAF V600 mutations. 

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 870 patients with completely resected, stage III melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations to receive oral dabrafenib at a dose of 150 mg twice daily plus trametinib at a dose of 2 mg once daily (combination therapy, 438 patients) or two matched placebo tablets (432 patients) for 12 months. The primary end point was relapse-free survival. Secondary end points included overall survival, distant metastasis-free survival, freedom from relapse, and safety. 

At a median follow-up of 2.8 years, the estimated 3-year rate of relapse-free survival was 58% in the combination-therapy group and 39% in the placebo group. The 3-year overall survival rate was 86% in the combination-therapy group and 77% in the placebo group, but this level of improvement did not cross the prespecified interim analysis boundary of P=0.000019. Rates of distant metastasis-free survival and freedom from relapse were also higher in the combination-therapy group than in the placebo group. The safety profile of dabrafenib plus trametinib was consistent with that observed with the combination in patients with metastatic melanoma. 

Adjuvant use of combination therapy with dabrafenib plus trametinib resulted in a significantly lower risk of recurrence in patients with stage III melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations than the adjuvant use of placebo and was not associated with new toxic effects.

Relapse free survival...58% with treatment, 39% with placebo!  Sounds good to me...of course you have to be BRAF positive....but it's something!!!

Now this is something "new"....and VERY old!!!  Remember this post:  Immunotherapy....The Original Super Heroes and Ratties!!!!  When you talk about CpG-B - Coley's toxin comes to mind, who, in the 1890's, injected bacteria into tumors and found that they would GO AWAY!!!  In 1983 an underlying DNA component of the bacteria, responsible for the effect, was discovered.  And in 1995, the specific DNA molecules (CpG) were found to be the component that specifically stimulated the immune response, with the B group in particular, causing B cell and monocyte maturation.  And since some of the patients were also given GM-CSF in the study below, here's a reminder about what that is:  Sargramostim ~ aka GM-CSF or leukine (and other related posts)  Here's the latest:

Local Adjuvant Treatment with Low-Dose CpG-B Offers Durable Protection against Disease Recurrence in Clinical Stage I-II Melanoma: Data from Two Randomized Phase II Trials. Koster, Van den Hout, Sluijter, et al. Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Oct 1.  

Although risk of recurrence after surgical removal of clinical stage I-II melanoma is considerable, there is no adjuvant therapy with proven efficacy. Here, we provide clinical evidence that a local conditioning regimen, aimed at immunologic arming of the tumor-draining lymph nodes, may provide durable protection against disease recurrence (median follow-up, 88.8 months).

In two randomized phase II trials, patients, diagnosed with stage I-II melanoma after excision of the primary tumor, received local injections at the primary tumor excision site within 7 days preceding re-excision and sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy of either a saline placebo (n = 22) or low-dose CpG type B (CpG-B) with (n = 9) or without (n = 21) low-dose GM-CSF.

CpG-B treatment was shown to be safe, to boost locoregional and systemic immunity, to be associated with lower rates of tumor-involved SLN (10% vs. 36% in controls), and, at a median follow-up of 88.8 months, to profoundly improve recurrence-free survival, even for patients with histologically confirmed (i.e., pathologic) stage I-II disease.

Potentially offering durable protection, local low-dose CpG-B administration in early-stage melanoma provides an adjuvant treatment option for a large group of patients currently going untreated despite being at considerable risk for disease recurrence. Once validated in a larger randomized phase III trial, this nontoxic immunopotentiating regimen may prove clinically transformative. 

What's not to like????? 

And there's this....  Here, CancerVax (canvaxin) was given along with BCG.  

Long-Term Survival after Complete Surgical Resection and Adjuvant Immunotherapy for Distant Melanoma Metastases. Faries, Mozzillo, Kashani-Sabet, et al.  Ann Surg Oncol. 2017 Oct 10. 
This phase III study was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of an allogeneic whole-cell vaccine (Canvaxin™) plus bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) after complete resection of stage IV melanoma.  After complete resection of ≤5 distant metastases, patients were randomly assigned to BCG+Canvaxin (BCG/Cv) or BCG+placebo (BCG/Pl). The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS); secondary endpoints were disease-free survival (DFS), and immune response measured by skin test.  Beginning in May 1998, 496 patients were randomized. In April 2005, the Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended stopping enrollment due to a low probability of efficacy. At that time, median OS and 5-year OS rate were 38.6 months and 44.9%, respectively, for BCG/Pl versus 31.4 months and 39.6% in the BCG/Cv group (hazard ratio (HR), 1.18; p = 0.250). Follow-up was extended at several trial sites through March 2010. Median OS and 5-year and 10-year survival was 39.1 months, 43.3 and 33.3%, respectively, for BCG/Pl versus 34.9 months, 42.5 and 36.4%, in the BCG/Cv group. Median DFS, 5- and 10-year DFS were 7.6 months, 23.8 and 21.7%, respectively, for BCG/Pl versus 8.5 months, 30.0%, and 30.0%, respectively, for the BCG/Cv group. Positive DTH skin testing correlated with increased survival.  In this, the largest study of postsurgical adjuvant therapy for stage IV melanoma reported to date, BCG/Cv did not improve outcomes over BCG/placebo. Favorable long-term survival among study patients suggests that metastasectomy should be considered for selected patients with stage IV melanoma.
So...that adjuvant therapy is a big NO!!!  As much as I love the idea of a vaccine (peptide vaccines - 6 of them actually - were included in my trial and DID NOT HELP!!!!) as treatment for melanoma, and have hope that someday....  Well, so far - it has been a no go!!!  But...we have all the options noted above that DO WORK!!!
I have been yelling about melanoma adjuvant treatment options since 2003!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Could we please take some action?????

The 2017 complete overhaul of adjuvant therapies for high-risk melanoma and its consequences for staging and management of melanoma patients. Eggermont, Dummer.  Eur J Cancer. 2017 Sep 28.  
The spectacular outcomes of the phase III trials regarding nivolumab versus ipilimumab in fully resected stage IIIB/C-IV and of the combination of dabrafenib (D) plus trametinib (T) in BRAF-mutant stage III patients demonstrate that effective treatments in advanced melanoma are also highly effective in the adjuvant setting. [No shit!!!!] In 2016, an overall survival benefit with adjuvant high-dose ipilimumab was demonstrated, and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer trial 1325 comparing pembrolizumab versus placebo will complete the picture in the early 2018. Toxicity profiles are in line with the experience in advanced melanoma, i.e. favourable for the anti-PD1 agents and for D + T and problematic for ipilimumab. The 2017 outcomes are practice changing and put an end to the use of interferon (IFN) and ipilimumab. [No shit!  And...ABOUT TIME!!!] In countries with only access to IFN, its use can be restricted to patients with ulcerated melanoma, based on the individual patient data meta-analysis recently published. Because of the results of the Melanoma Sentinel Lymph node Trial-2 (MSLT-2) trial, completion lymph node dissection (CLND) will decrease sharply, leading to a lack of optimal prognostic information. Prognosis in sentinel node-positive stage IIIA/B patients is extremely heterogeneous with 5-year survival rates varying from 90% to 40% and depends mostly on the number of positive nodes identified by CLND. This information is crucial for clinical decision-making. How to guarantee optimal staging information needs to be discussed urgently. Further improvements of adjuvant therapies will have to address all these questions as well as the exploration of neoadjuvant use of active drugs and combination approaches. Important paradigm shifts in the management of high-risk melanoma patients are upon us.
"Important paradigm shifts in the management of high-risk melanoma patients are upon us." I hope so!!!  It is more than time!  So many ratties have done the work.  Let's make this so!!!! - c


  1. And those vaccines were the WORST! :(

  2. Well....not so bad with a dose of "stories"....esp when the nurse chimes in..."ooooh a 'happy' story"!!!!!

  3. Sure wish I could understand what you are writing about. Guess I don't understand all the jargon. I have a large Desmoplastic tumor on the right side of my head, where they took my ear....ear canal... and Mastoid bone a year and ten months ago. Reoccured in same area. Placed on Keytruda for four months. Tumor doubled in size. Then placed on Opdivo and Yervoy for 3 treatments with no luck. Now on a treatment known as "wait and see", as this thing continues to expand outward. Is there no other hope for me (can't have any more radiation or Chemo in the area) or is this just the way I have to live out my life ?? Thank You..........Larry

    1. Larry, So sorry for all that you have been through. I write about melanoma data. Demoplastic tumors are a variant of that. But I am not absolutely sure how much cross over there will be....but if you tumor is superficial...near the seems to me that you would be a great candidate for intralesional therapy. Medicines that are injected directly into the lesion. Here are a bunch of reports on intralesional (or intra-tumoral) therapy:
      I think T-VEC or PV-10 are showing the best promise (but that's just a gut reaction) and many are being given at the same time as immunotherapy (the Opdivo/Yervoy and Keytruda you are currently on). Make sure you are seeing a melanoma specialist. Talk to your doc to see if these are an option for you. I wish you my best. There was a really good article talking about this very thing in: Cancers 2015, 7, 1154-1177 by Gabriel and Skitzki. Get your doc to look it up!!!! the docs who wrote it at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263 You can email them at: