In a nutshell
This study wanted to find out what the survival rates are of patients with melanoma treated with pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The study found that after 5 years, there was a good response to treatment overall.
Pembrolizumab is a new cancer treatment. It treats many different types of cancer. It works by using the immune system to kill the cancer cells. There are a number of anti-cancer medications that work this way. Sometimes, if a patients has been treated with one of these medications before, treating with the same type of medication again will not be as effective. It is not known how well patients survive after treatment with pembrolizumab in the long term.
Methods & findings
This study consisted of 665 patients with melanoma. They all had advanced cancer. Some of the patients had been treated with medication similar to pembrolizumab before. On average, the patients were followed for 55 months after treatment.
After 5 years, 34% of patients were still alive. In the patients who had never been treated with any anti-cancer medication before, 41% were still alive after 5 years. On average, the patients survived for 23.8 months. In the patients who had never been treated with any anti-cancer medication before, they survived for slightly longer (38.6 months). In all the patients, 21% went for five years without the cancer growing. In the patients who had never been treated with any anti-cancer medication before, 29% went for five years without the cancer growing. Overall patients went for 8.3 months without the cancer growing. In the patients who had never been treated with any anti-cancer medication before, they went for 16.9 months without the cancer growing. After 5 years, 73% of patients were still responding to treatment.
The bottom line
The study concluded that pembrolizumab is a safe and effective anti-cancer medication for treating melanoma, especially in melanoma that had not been treated before.
The fine print
This is the biggest study looking at the drug pembrolizumab. More data is being published soon.
Talk to your oncologist about your treatment plan.
Published By :
Annals of oncology: official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology
Jan 31, 2019