The survival of advanced metastatic melanoma has been greatly improved within the past few years. New therapeutic strategies like kinase inhibitors for BRAF-mutant melanoma and immune checkpoint blockers proved to prolong survival times within clinical trials, and many of them have already entered routine clinical use. However, these different treatment modalities have not yet been tested against each other, which complicate therapy decisions. We performed an explorative analysis of survival data from recent clinical trials. Thirty-five Kaplan-Meier survival curves from 17 trials were digitised, re-grouped by matching inclusion criteria and treatment line, and averaged by therapy strategy. Notably, the survival curves grouped by therapy strategy revealed a very high concordance, even if different agents were used. The greatest survival improvement was observed with the combination of BRAF plus MEK inhibitors as well as with Programmed-death-1 (PD1) blockers with or without cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) blockers, respectively, with these two treatment strategies showing similar survival outcomes. For first-line therapy, averaged survival proportions of patients alive at 12 months were 74.5% with BRAF plus MEK inhibitor treatment versus 71.9% with PD-1 blockade. This explorative comparison shows the kinase inhibitors as similarly effective as immune checkpoint blockers with regard to survival. However, to confirm these first trends for implementation into an individualised treatment of melanoma patients, data from prospective clinical trials comparing the different treatment strategies head-to-head have to be awaited.
Keywords: Immune checkpoint blockers; Kinase inhibitors; Melanoma; Survival; Therapy.
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