New Personalized Medicine Increases Survival in Melanoma Patients

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Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest and most aggressive from of skin cancer.  A person with metastatic melanoma typically has a short life expectancy that is measured in months.  

The mainstay treatments for metastatic melanoma are dacarbazine (DTIC), interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon (IFN).  However, efficacies of these agents are not very good. 

Less than one in four people are expected to be alive one year after diagnosis and every year there are an estimated 40,000 people worldwide die from this disease. 

Now a drug, RG7204, developed by Genentech might be able to extend the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.  

In clinical trials involving 675 melanoma patients with BRAF V600 mutation, RG7204 was showed to be better than dacarbazine (the current standard) in improving the overall survival and also survival without disease getting worse (progression-free survival).  Furthermore, RG7204 is an oral drug and does not require intravenous injection. 

The most frequent Grade 3 adverse events associated with the drug were skin related and included cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a common skin cancer treated by local excision.  The most common adverse events were rash, photosensitivity, joint pain, hair loss and fatigue. 

Genentech is now working closely with global health authorities to expand the Patient Access Program (PAP).  The PAP will be extended to include people with previously untreated, BRAF V600 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma (first line). 

If you have metastatic melanoma and are interested in receiving this new drug, please check with your doctor or contact the pharmaceutical company, Roche, for more details. 

Source: Genentech Press Release 2011. 

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