Combination Targeted Therapy Improves Survival of Stage III Melanoma Patients

It is estimated that 40% of melanomas contain BRAF mutations that promote cancer cell growth. While previous studies have shown that treatment with the combination of inhibitors targeting BRAF (dabrafenib) and MEK (trametinib) improved survival in patients with advanced, unresectable metastatic BRAF-mutant melanoma, it was not clear whether this combination would have the same effect in an adjuvant setting.

A team led by John M. Kirkwood, MD, Thomas and Sandra Usher Professor of Medicine, Dermatology and Translational Science, conducted a phase III, double-blind, randomized clinical trial in patients with stage III, BRAF-mutated melanoma whose tumors had been surgically removed, and found that the adjuvant use of combination therapy with dabrafenib plus trametinib for 12 months resulted in a 53% lower risk of relapse compared to placebo. At 3 years, the rate of relapse-free survival was 58% in the combination-therapy group and 39% in the placebo group. These results were recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Watch Dr. Kirkwood discuss this study and its potential impact in the video.