Discontinuation of BRAF/MEK-Directed Targeted Therapy after Complete Remission of Metastatic Melanoma-A Retrospective Multicenter ADOReg Study

Cancers (Basel). 2021 May 12;13(10):2312. doi: 10.3390/cancers13102312.


The advent of BRAF/MEK inhibitors (BRAFi/MEKi) has significantly improved progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) for patients with advanced BRAF-V600-mutant melanoma. Long-term survivors have been identified particularly among patients with a complete response (CR) to BRAF/MEK-directed targeted therapy (TT). However, it remains unclear which patients who achieved a CR maintain a durable response and whether treatment cessation might be a safe option in these patients. Therefore, this study investigated the impact of treatment cessation on the clinical course of patients with a CR upon BRAF/MEK-directed-TT. We retrospectively selected patients with BRAF-V600-mutant advanced non-resectable melanoma who had been treated with BRAFi ± MEKi therapy and achieved a CR upon treatment out of the multicentric skin cancer registry ADOReg. Data on baseline patient characteristics, duration of TT, treatment cessation, tumor progression (TP) and response to second-line treatments were collected and analyzed. Of 461 patients who received BRAF/MEK-directed TT 37 achieved a CR. TP after initial CR was observed in 22 patients (60%) mainly affecting patients who discontinued TT (n = 22/26), whereas all patients with ongoing TT (n = 11) maintained their CR. Accordingly, patients who discontinued TT had a higher risk of TP compared to patients with ongoing treatment (p < 0.001). However, our data also show that patients who received TT for more than 16 months and who discontinued TT for other reasons than TP or toxicity did not have a shorter PFS compared to patients with ongoing treatment. Response rates to second-line treatment being initiated in 21 patients, varied between 27% for immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) and 60% for BRAFi/MEKi rechallenge. In summary, we identified a considerable number of patients who achieved a CR upon BRAF/MEK-directed TT in this contemporary real-world cohort of patients with BRAF-V600-mutant melanoma. Sustained PFS was not restricted to ongoing TT but was also found in patients who discontinued TT.

Keywords: advanced melanoma; complete response; discontinuation; disease progression; second-line immunotherapy; targeted therapy.