ASCO: Pembrolizumab Improves Survival in Melanoma

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ASCO: Pembrolizumab Improves Survival in Melanoma
ASCO: Pembrolizumab Improves Survival in Melanoma

THURSDAY, May 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Use of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in advanced melanoma is extending survival for many and even curing some, according to findings to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 3 to 7 in Chicago.

The study involved 655 patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma. Three-fourths of the patients had received other treatments for their cancer prior to the study. Participants received intravenous pembrolizumab either every two or three weeks.

Treatment with pembrolizumab correlated with a three-year overall survival rate of 40 percent, and a median overall survival of 24.4 months. Of patients with complete response, 61 (9 percent) stopped taking pembrolizumab after they were judged cancer-free, with 97 percent still in remission at time of analysis. Eight percent of the patients dropped out of the study due to drug side effects. The most common were fatigue (40 percent), pruritus (28 percent), and rash (23 percent).

"Pembrolizumab provides long-term survival benefit in patients with advanced melanoma," Caroline Robert, M.D., Ph.D., head of the dermatology unit at the Institut Gustave-Roussy in Paris, told HealthDay. "We have durable responses in one-third of the patients, and we have complete responses that are durable even after stopping the treatment."

The study received funding from Merck, the manufacturer of pembrolizumab.

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