Promising results from combination therapy A new 945-patient study shows that a combination of Yervoy (Ipiluminab) and the PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo (Nivolumab) is more effective in treating advanced melanoma than either therapy alone.
Discussing the study results at this year's ASCO meeting, Dr. Michael Atkins, formerly of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and now at the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center, described this as another “breakthrough” in melanoma therapy. Given these results and results of an earlier study comparing pembrolizumab and ipilimumab, he said, nivolumab monotherapy and in combination with ipilimumab—along with pembrolizumab—should be considered new standards of care for advanced melanoma.
58% of patients in the study who received the combination saw their tumors shrink, compared with 44% on Opdivo alone and 19% on Yervoy. The average time of progression-free survival was 11.5 months for the combination, compared with 6.9 months for Opdivo alone and 2.9 months for Yervoy.
The combination therapy also resulted in a higher incidence of adverse side effects, however. This and the high cost of these drugs are among the issues that need to be addressed as research moves forward.
Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer In July of 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. This remarkable document marks the first time the Surgeon General's office has declared openly that UV radiation is harmful and that people need to protect themselves from its effects. It also lays out an action plan to stem the "rising tide of skin cancer" that has seen the incidence of melanoma alone triple over the last 35 years.
This July, the CDC issued its first Skin Cancer Prevention Report. The report includes a wealth of statistics and useful information, and is the first of what the CDC envisions as annual updates on efforts to prevent skin cancer.