Phase II trial of imatinib mesylate in patients with metastatic melanoma

Br J Cancer. 2008 Sep 2;99(5):734-40. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604482. Epub 2008 Aug 19.


Metastatic melanoma cells express a number of protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) that are considered to be targets for imatinib. We conducted a phase II trial of imatinib in patients with metastatic melanoma expressing at least one of these PTKs. Twenty-one patients whose tumours expressed at least one PTK (c-kit, platelet-derived growth factor receptors, c-abl, or abl-related gene) were treated with 400 mg of imatinib twice daily. One patient with metastatic acral lentiginous melanoma, containing the highest c-kit expression among all patients, had dramatic improvement on positron emission tomographic scan at 6 weeks and had a partial response lasting 12.8 months. The responder had a substantial increase in tumour and endothelial cell apoptosis at 2 weeks of treatment. Imatinib was fairly well tolerated: no patient required treatment discontinuation because of toxicity. Fatigue and oedema were the only grade 3 or 4 toxicities that occurred in more than 10% of the patients. Imatinib at the studied dose had minimal clinical efficacy as a single-agent therapy for metastatic melanoma. However, based on the characteristics of the responding tumour in our study, clinical activity of imatinib, specifically in patients with melanoma with certain c-kit aberrations, should be examined.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Base Sequence
  • Benzamides
  • DNA Primers
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Male
  • Melanoma / blood supply
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Middle Aged
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • DNA Primers
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate