New study by investigators at WorldCare Consortium™ member Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds immunotherapy doubles survival rates for patients with melanoma brain metastases
A new study led by investigators at WorldCare Consortium™ member Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that checkpoint blockade immunotherapies provide significant improvements in overall survival for patients with melanoma brain metastases. The researchers were able to gather a large enough dataset to determine the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies and targeted therapy for melanoma patients with cancer that has spread to the brain by evaluating data from over 1,500 cancer programs across the United States.
About 1 in 54 people will develop melanoma at some point in their lifetime, most of whom will receive early diagnoses and be cured by having the tumor surgically removed. For patients with advanced disease, however, the median overall survival rate is less than one year, as advanced melanoma tends to spread to the brain and is the third most common cause of metastatic brain cancer. Recent FDA approval of checkpoint blockade immunotherapies and targeted therapies have provided new options for treating advanced melanoma. These have produced promising preliminary results in clinical trials of patients with advanced melanoma, but many of these trials have excluded patients whose skin cancer has spread to the brain.
In the Brigham and Women’s study, a research team compiled data from more than 2,753 patients from cancer hospitals across the United States. Patients who received checkpoint blockade immunotherapy had an average survival of 12.4 months (compared to 5.2 months for those not receiving immunotherapy) and had a four-year survival rate of 28.1 percent (compared to 11.1 percent for those not receiving immunotherapy). Patients whose cancer had not spread beyond the brain, these improvements were even more dramatic.
“Through the use of nationwide cancer data, for the first time we can evaluate the impacts on survival that these exciting new therapies have for patients with melanoma brain metastases,” stated Timothy Smith, MD, PhD, MPH, senior author of the study and Director of the Computational Neuroscience Outcomes Center at the Department of Neurosurgery at WorldCare Consortium™ member Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This highlights the power of population data to help answer critical, but previously unanswerable, questions that we face every day in clinical practice.”