In a nutshell
This study wanted to find out how well patients with advanced melanoma with mutations (abnormal genes) survive when treated with dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) combination. The study found that long term, patients survived moderately well with this treatment.
Advanced melanoma can be hard to treat. In about 50% of patients with melanoma, the tumor has mutations in the gene called BRAF. This mutation makes the cancer progress quicker. It has been shown that BRAF mutated melanoma responds well to treatment with dabrafenib and trametinib. However, the long-term outcomes for dabrafenib and trametinib combination in patients with metastatic melanoma remain under investigation.
Methods & findings
This study had 563 patients from 2 clinical trials. The patients all had melanoma that had spread, or could not be operated on. In all the patients, the cancer had a BRAF V600E or V600K mutation. All of the patients received treatment with dabrafenib and trametinib. The average follow-up was 22 months.
After four years, 21% of the patients were alive without cancer growing or spreading. After five years, this rate was 19%. After four years, 37% of the patients were still alive. After five years, 34% of the patients were still alive.
19% of patients completely responded to treatment. This meant that there was no trace of the cancer remaining in the body. In these patients, overall survival was 71% after 5 years.
The bottom line
The study concluded that treating advanced melanoma patients with dabrafenib and trametinib leads to long-term survival in a third of patients.
The fine print
There were a number of other factors that were associated with a decreased chance of survival. These included age, sex, and places the cancer had spread to. Further studies are needed.
Published By :
The New England Journal of Medicine
Jun 04, 2019