Systemic therapy in advanced melanoma: integrating targeted therapy and immunotherapy into clinical practice

Curr Opin Oncol. 2017 Nov;29(6):484-492. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000405.


Purpose of review: Here we review the results from relevant phase III trials and discuss treatment strategies for challenging subgroups of melanoma patients.

Recent findings: Targeted therapies induce rapid responses in the majority of BRAF-mutant patients, however, 50% of these responders will develop resistance within approximately 13 months. In contrast, inhibitors of checkpoints on T cells, particularly inhibitors of PD-1, induce responses in 40-55% of patients (monotherapy or whenever combined with anti-CTLA-4), and these responses tend to be durable. Data from subgroup analyses of large clinical trials, as well as patient-centred factors, help guide clinicians in their choice of first-line therapy.

Summary: Immune checkpoint inhibitors and MAP kinase pathway-targeted therapies have revolutionized the management of advanced melanoma, and significantly prolong the overall survival of patients with this disease. The median overall survival is over 2 years for both anti-PD-1-based therapy and combined BRAF and MEK inhibition. Without head-to-head comparison data for either therapy, choice of first-line drug treatment is difficult.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic