Chemotherapy in Cutaneous Melanoma: Is There Still a Role?

Pham JP, Joshua AM, da Silva IP, Dummer R, Goldinger SM. Curr Oncol Rep. 2023 Mar 29. doi: 10.1007/s11912-023-01385-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36988735.



Purpose of review: In the preceding decade, the management of metastatic cutaneous melanoma has been revolutionised with the development of highly effective therapies including immune checkpoint inhibitors (specifically CTLA-4 and PD-1 inhibitors) and targeted therapies (BRAF and MEK inhibitors). The role of chemotherapy in the contemporary management of melanoma is undefined.

Recent findings: Extended analyses highlight substantially improved 5-year survival rates of approximately 50% in patients with metastatic melanoma treated with first-line therapies. However, most patients will progress on these first-line treatments. Sequencing of chemotherapy following failure of targeted and immunotherapies is associated with low objective response rates and short progression-free survival, and thus, meaningful benefits to patients are minimal. Chemotherapy has limited utility in the contemporary management of cutaneous melanoma (with a few exceptions, discussed herein) and should not be the standard treatment sequence following failure of first-line therapies. Instead, enrolment onto clinical trials should be standard-of-care in these patients.