From the Journals

Checkpoint inhibitor doubles 3-year survival rate of BRAF wild-type advanced melanoma



For previously untreated patients with BRAF wild-type advanced melanoma, the antiprogrammed death-ligand 1 agent nivolumab dramatically improved overall survival (OS), compared with standard first-line chemotherapy, according to new data from the CheckMate 066 trial.

At the 3-year follow-up, more than twice as many nivolumab-treated patients were alive, compared with those who received dacarbazine, reported lead author Paolo A. Ascierto, MD, director of the unit of melanoma, cancer immunotherapy, and innovative therapy at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori Fondazione Pascale in Naples, Italy, and his colleagues. Longer median progression-free survival (PFS) and higher complete response rates were also reported.

“The results of this 3-year follow-up analysis provided evidence for a durable survival benefit with nivolumab monotherapy in patients with previously untreated BRAF wild-type advanced melanoma,” the investigators wrote in JAMA Oncology.

The double-blind, phase 3 trial involved 418 patients with unresectable, previously untreated stage III or IV melanoma not exhibiting a BRAF mutation. Patients were randomized to receive either nivolumab (n = 210; 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks plus placebo every 3 weeks) or dacarbazine (n = 208; 1,000 mg/m2 every 3 weeks plus placebo every 2 weeks). Treatment continued until unacceptable toxicity or disease progression occurred.

The results showed dramatic benefits, measured by OS and PFS, when patients were treated with nivolumab. The 3-year OS rate was 51.2% in the nivolumab group, compared with 21.6% in the dacarbazine group, an approximate 130% difference. Median OS and median PFS were also multiplied by the checkpoint inhibitor, showing 230% and 130% improvements, respectively (OS, 37.5 months vs. 11.2 months; PFS, 5.1 months vs. 2.2 months; P less than .001). Grade 3 or higher treatment-related adverse events (AEs) were comparable between treatment arms (nivolumab, 15.0% vs. dacarbazine, 17.6%).

“Responses to nivolumab were long lasting in many patients who discontinued treatment, with most patients who stopped treatment still alive and without disease progression at the time of the last assessment,” the investigators wrote.

“Collectively, our results showed durable responses and long-term survival with nivolumab monotherapy, with no new AEs developing at late time points,” they concluded.

The study was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The authors reported financial relationships with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche/Genentech, Novartis, Amgen, and others.

SOURCE: Ascierto PA et al. JAMA Oncol. 2018 Oct 25. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.4514.

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