In a nutshell
This study evaluated whether combining BRAF and MEK inhibitors was safer and more effective than BRAF inhibitor treatment alone for patients with melanoma. This study concluded that combination therapy led to better survival but was associated with certain side effects.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be challenging to treat. The goal of initial treatment is to reduce the amount of disease. Targeted therapy is one possible treatment option. Different targeted therapies kill cancer cells in different ways. For example, a mutation in a protein called BRAF can lead to cells growing out of control. MEK is another protein involved in cell growth.
BRAF inhibitors such as dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf) and MEK inhibitors such as trametinib (Mekinist) and cobimetinib (Cotellic) target these proteins within cancer cells. This leads to cancer cell death. Previous studies have shown that combining BRAF and MEK inhibitors may be more effective than either inhibitor alone. Whether this combination therapy is safer and more effective than BRAF inhibitor treatment alone remains under investigation.
Methods & findings
This study analyzed the results of seven different studies that included a total of 3146 patients with melanoma. Patients received either a BRAF inhibitor alone (monotherapy) or a BRAF inhibitor combined with a MEK inhibitor (combination therapy).
Combination therapy was significantly associated with a 1.13-fold lower risk of mortality compared to monotherapy. The likelihood of responding to treatment was also significantly higher (1.36-fold). The risk of tumor growth or spread after treatment also significantly decreased by 43%.
Patients who received combination therapy had a significant 1.6-fold higher risk of fever compared to patients who received monotherapy. The risks of diarrhea (1.52-fold), vomiting (1.61-fold), and nausea (1.24-fold) were also significantly higher compared to monotherapy. However, patients who received monotherapy had a significantly lower risk of hair loss (69% lower) and joint pain (35% lower).
The bottom line
This study concluded that BRAF and MEK combination therapy improved survival more than BRAF inhibitor treatment alone. However, combination therapy was associated with more nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
The fine print
This study looked back in time to analyze data. This may limit the conclusions that can be drawn from these results.
Published By :
Aug 08, 2019