Melanoma Patients Living for up to 10 Years After Ipilimumab

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RESEARCH presented at the European Cancer Congress 2013 confirms dramatic effectiveness of Ipilimumab.


Some patients with advanced melanoma treated with Ipilimumab are still alive up to 10 years later, reported Stephen Hodi, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

Dr. Hodi presented long-term data from a pooled analysis of 4846 patients, which showed a plateau in overall survival ― with 21% to 22% of patients alive at 3 years, 17% still alive after 7 years, and no deaths after that. “The longest follow-up in the database is 9.9 years,” he said.

In the pre-ipilimumab era, patients with advanced metastatic melanoma were treated with chemotherapy and interferon, and survival was measured in months ― on average, 10 to 11 months, with a range of 6 to 18 months, depending on where the disease had manifested itself, he told Medscape Medical News.

“This is a huge paradigm shift in the treatment of melanoma from where we were just a few years ago,” he said at a press conference held during the meeting. “It is hard to use the c-word and talk about cure,” he said, explaining that in some patients the disease goes away, and they go into remission, but in others there is still tumor showing on the computed tomography scan, but it does not change. “What it means for us as clinicians is that we can start talking to our patients about the possibility of turning melanoma into a chronic disease, which we couldn’t even imagine a few years ago,” he said.

Ipilimumab was approved in 2011 in the European Union and the United States. It has a novel mechanism of action, interfering with the immune system instead of acting directly on the cancer. It targets cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), a protein found on the surface of T cells that acts like a brake; the drug removes this brake, allowing the T cell to go into attack mode and kill cancer cells. The product is typically given as a course of 4 injections during a period of 3 months, and some patients receive retreatment and/or maintenance therapy…READ FULL ARTICLE


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