In a nutshell
This study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of talimogene laherparepvec (TVEC) therapy for patients with melanoma that cannot be surgically removed (unresectable). The study found that TVEC therapy is an effective treatment for these patients, with minimal side effects.
Patients with localized melanoma that is limited to a specific area of the body have had limited treatment options. Removal of the tumor via surgery and radiation therapy are two common treatments. However, patients with unresectable melanoma need other treatment options.
TVEC is a modified oncolytic virus. This type of treatment specifically targets cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone. When injected into a tumor, it splits the cancer cells open. This leads to cancer cell death. The safety of this treatment and how well it works in patients with unresectable melanoma is unclear.
Methods & findings
This study involved 120 patients. Data was only available for 80 patients. All patients had late-stage unresectable melanoma. 42.5% of patients did not receive therapy before. All patients received TVEC injections directly into tumors. 50% of the injected tumors were on the legs. 24% were on the head and neck, and 15% were on the torso. Patients were followed-up for an average of 9 months.
Overall, 57% of patients responded to treatment. 39% of patients had a complete disappearance of cancer (complete response) after 9 months. 18% of patients had tumor shrinkage (partial response).
58% of patients did not experience any side effects. Of patients who experienced side effects, most were mild. The most common side effect was flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fevers, nausea), occurring in 28% of patients.
The bottom line
The study concluded that TVEC is a safe and effective treatment for advanced melanoma that is unresectable.
The fine print
This study was retrospective, meaning it looked back in time to analyze data. Also, this study was small. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results. Research into TVEC therapy for the treatment of unresectable melanoma is still in the early stages.
Talk to your oncologist about your treatment options.
Published By :
Journal of the American College of Surgeons
Jan 08, 2019