Background: Ipilimumab is a recently approved immunotherapy that has demonstrated an improvement in the overall survival (OS) of patients with metastatic melanoma. We report a single-institution experience in patients treated in a compassionate-use program.
Patients and methods: In this prospective study, patients were treated between June 2010 and September 2011. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, at least one previous line of chemotherapy, and survival 12 weeks after the first perfusion. Four courses of ipilimumab were administered at a dose of 3 mg/kg every 3 weeks.
Results: Seventy-three patients were included. Median OS was 9.1 months (95% CI 6.4-11.3) from the start of ipilimumab. Immune-related adverse events were observed in 45 patients (62%), including 19 grade 3-4 events (26%). No drug-related death occurred. A lymphocyte count >1000/mm(3) at the start of the second course and an increase in the eosinophil count >100/mm(3) between the first and second infusions were correlated with an improved OS.
Conclusion: Ipilimumab toxic effect is manageable in real life. Biological data such as lymphocyte and eosinophil counts at the time of the second ipilimumab infusion appear to be early markers associated with better OS.
Keywords: eosinophil count; ipilimumab; lymphocyte count; metastatic melanoma; overall survival; toxic effect.