Metastatic melanoma

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2001 Jun;2(3):193-202. doi: 10.1007/s11864-001-0033-5.


The overall survival for patients with metastatic melanoma ranges from 4.7 to 11 months, with a median survival of 8.5 months. Standard treatment for patients with metastatic melanoma has not been defined. The range of treatment options includes close observation, surgical resection of isolated metastases, therapy with dacarbazine, combination chemotherapy, and participation in clinical trials. Numerous chemotherapeutic agents have shown activity in the treatment of malignant melanoma. Dacarbazine (DTIC-Dome; Bayer Corporation, West Haven, CT) has a response rate of 15% to 20% and remains the reference agent for the treatment of metastatic disease. Additional agents with single-agent activity include cisplatin, (Platinol-AQ; Bristol-Myers Oncology, Princeton, NJ); carmustine (BiCNU; Bristol-Myers Oncology, Princeton, NJ); paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ); and docetaxel (Taxotere; Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals, Collegeville, PA). Temozolomide (Temodar; Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, NJ), which is essentially an oral form of dacarbazine but with greater central nervous system penetrance, is associated with a response rate of 20%. Combination chemotherapy with or without tamoxifen has been extensively evaluated in patients with metastatic melanoma. Although the initial results with the Dartmouth regimen (dacarbazine, cisplatin, carmustine, and tamoxifen) were associated with overall response rates of 50% to 55% in single-institution studies, results from larger multicenter studies reveal responses rates ranging from 10% to 20%. Based on the results of several clinical trials, there is no evidence that the addition of tamoxifen improves the response rate. Another combination regimen is cisplatin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (CVD), which is associated with a 20% to 25% response rate. There has been widespread interest in developing immunotherapies against metastatic melanoma. Interferon (IFN)-alfa and interleukin (IL)-2 as single agents have produced response rates in the 15% to 20% range. Biochemotherapy, which is a combination of immunotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy, has been studied in patients with metastatic melanoma. Multiple phase II studies have demonstrated high response rates but unclear impact on overall survival. Therapy is associated with significant toxicity. Ongoing randomized clinical trials will clarify the role of biochemotherapy in patients with metastatic melanoma. Ongoing new approaches to treatment include the therapeutic use of vaccines alone or in combination with cytokines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Radiotherapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukin-2