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Through the identification of new principles from our melanoma studies, we hope to contribute toward the development of new treatments for other kinds of cancers. My Chart. Donate Today. For Physicians. Cancer Moonshots. Patrick Hwu, M.

Toxicities of New Drugs for Melanoma Treatment and their Management

Department Chair. Jump To:. Developing better therapies by linking the lab with the clinic We hope this site will provide you with important information regarding melanoma , including current treatment strategies, ongoing clinical trials and laboratory research.

Colitis and endocrinopathies were observed to occur even after treatment had been completed, in contrast to other toxicities which occurred within the week period of treatment and resolved within 6 weeks of the final dose of ipilimumab. The median time to steroid treatment was 6. Infliximab was required in 7 patients for refractory diarrhoea despite steroids; 2 of these patients required repeated infusions, 1 of whom subsequently underwent a resection with ileostomy formation.

Melanoma Medical Oncology | MD Anderson Cancer Center

The median time to infliximab treatment was 7. Notably, the number of ipilimumab infusions received and the number of previous treatments were not significantly associated with toxicity. No factors were independently significantly associated with toxicity on multivariate analysis. Bar chart depicting the onset of toxicity. Toxicities grouped according to immune-related adverse events relative to start of ipilimumab treatment. Response was determined by CT scan 4 weeks after the fourth cycle of ipilimumab. If stable disease or a response was determined then a confirmatory scan was performed 4 weeks thereafter, and patients followed up every three months with scans unless the clinical picture dictated otherwise.

In 2 patients who were lost to follow-up, the response was unknown.

Evidence drives sweeping changes to melanoma treatment recommendations

Only 1 patient with progressive disease at the end of treatment went on to have a delayed response, which occurred 6 months later, and 1 patient with stable disease exhibited disease progression at a solitary site, which was resected with no further evidence of disease progression to date. No significant effect was associated with line of treatment, BRAF mutation, gender or age. The median follow-up time was 8 months range, 1—39 months. At the time of analysis, patients were deceased and 28 were alive.

The median PFS time was 2. Kaplan-Meier curves demonstrating patient survival. A Progression-free survival for all patients; B overall survival for all patients. The current study reports the real-world efficacy and toxicity of the novel anti-CTLA-4 antibody ipilimumab in patients treated primarily outside of clinical trials.

The toxicities reported in the current sample of patients were irAE, in accordance with the published data on ipilimumab toxicity 6. These were, as expected, primarily related to dermatological, endocrine or gastrointestinal complications. The time to onset of toxicity varied according to the irAE; rash was the earliest toxicity, followed by diarrhoea or colitis, then hepatic toxicity, and finally hypophysitis.

The majority of toxicities appeared and resolved within the week period 4 cycles of ipilimumab treatment, with the exception of hypophysitis and liver toxicity, which in some cases could take longer to resolve or, in the case of hypophysitis, fail to resolve completely 6. In contrast to the reviewed data, the present study demonstrates that all of these toxicities have a wider range of times to onset and may occur much earlier in the course of treatment Table II and Fig.

One major difference to the pooled data review described was the onset of diarrhoea; this appeared to commence much later in some of the current patients and extended well beyond the period of ipilimumab treatment. There are no validated biomarkers for the prediction of toxicity, response or outcome to ipilimumab. The current data set is small and thus any associations are to be treated with caution. Nevertheless, others have reported that response is associated with NRAS mutation or autoimmune toxicity 10 , High LDH level is known to be a poor prognostic factor in metastatic melanoma, and has been suggested as a selection criterion for ipilimumab treatment It most likely reflects overall disease status in addition to performance status.

The survival outcomes in the present study are similar to those reported by other groups, reflecting the poorer clinical status of patients treated outside trials and particularly in the SAP and EAP, where ipilimumab may have been used as a higher line of therapy 11 , The management of irAE is dependent upon vigilance in patient monitoring and early detection.

If detected early, toxicities may be prevented from escalating, particularly in the case of gastrointestinal, hepatic and dermatological irAE. A high index of suspicion is required for the early detection of endocrinopathies, as early symptoms are often non-specific.

How We Treat Melanoma

It is unclear whether early immunosuppressive therapy can abrogate or mitigate the extent of endocrinopathies once these begin. It is essential that patients are made aware of the potential side effects and the need to communicate any symptoms to their clinical team.

Melanoma Genome Project

The average onset of different toxicities may guide physicians; however, given the variability between patients in the time to onset of toxicities of any kind , this cannot be relied upon. These have been expanded further for greater guidance 6. The REMS also includes a checklist of symptoms and actions for healthcare workers to assess patients in community clinics or emergency departments, and a patient wallet card explaining potential irAEs and reminding patients to seek urgent medical attention for specific irAEs.

These are useful adjuncts, particularly for general medical staff or emergency departments where many patients will present. Our current practice mandates a patient teaching session as to potential irAEs prior to commencing ipilimumab. Patients are seen prior to every cycle of treatment and every three months thereafter depending on the course of treatment , undergoing full thyroid function tests triiodothyronine, thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone and random cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone and testosterone evaluations, in addition to routine biochemical and haematological blood tests.

The kinetics of toxicity with these agents has not been fully defined and, unlike ipilimumab where treatment consists of 4 cycles only, these agents may be continued for up to 2 years. Our experience with anti-PD-1 agents indicates that thyroid dysfunction is common and early, detectable within the first 6 weeks. It tends firstly to hyperthyroidism, which is rarely symptomatic, and then to euthyroidism or hypothyroidism, requiring treatment.

All other toxicities appear to occur at any time during treatment and, in certain cases, a year after the initiation of treatment unpublished data. In conclusion, there is little doubt that antibodies like ipilimumab that act as immune checkpoint inhibitors have significantly altered treatment paradigms in metastatic melanoma 2. It is likely that greater toxicity will be reported as these agents are more widely used; however, certain irAEs, particularly neurological toxicities, will be rare and idiosyncratic.


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Careful observation and early intervention via a multidisciplinary approach will therefore be required to optimally manage these patients. In addition the use of checkpoint inhibitors is likely to expand to other tumour types, and it will be necessary for non-oncology physicians to be familiar with their potential toxicities and their management. Dermal mitotic activity has been identified as an important prognostic factor in thin melanomas 1 mm.

Balch CM et al. J Clin Oncol.

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A checklist of the details required in a pathology report of melanoma is available from the College of American Patholgists website. Frishberg D et. Fine needle aspiration cytology is not recommended for diagnosis of primary lesions although it may be useful in the assessment of metastatic disease such as satellite skin nodules or in regional lymph nodes. In some patients, the diagnosis of malignant melanoma, dysplastic nevi or Spitz nevi may pose a very difficult problem. The pathologists in the Skin Tumour Group, who provide a provincial consultative service, may be most helpful with these problems.

The initial staging work-up should include a thorough history and physical examination, with special attention to the skin and lymph nodes. Any abnormal finding should direct the need for further studies to detect regional and distant metastases.

In asymptomatic patients with localized melanoma of any thickness, routine blood tests and imaging studies are not recommended. LDH is an insensitive marker for metastatic disease and is not clinically useful. Routine surveillance chest x-ray, computed tomography CT and positron emission tomography PET are limited by a low yield for the detection of metastases and a relatively high false-positive rate.

Imaging studies should be performed only as clinically indicated for the investigation of suspicious signs or symptoms which may alter clinical management. Sentinel lymph node biopsy SLNB is a staging procedure for melanoma that is optional.


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For a discussion of its role in melanoma staging, see section 6.