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What drugs are used in immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma?

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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. When it spreads to other places in your body, it's called metastatic, or advanced. Immunotherapy drugs include:

  • Interferon-alpha and interleukin-2: These older drugs can help some people live longer.
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy): There are two uses for this drug. It can be given to individuals who have had surgery to remove melanoma in order to prevent the melanoma from coming back. It can also be used for late-stage melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery. However, the drug doesn't work for everyone, and it can have serious, even life-threatening, side effects.
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo): It works by inhibiting the PD-1 protein on cells, which enables the body’s immune system to attack melanoma tumors. It's been shown to increase overall survival.
  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda): This drug may shrink tumors in some people with advanced melanoma who have already been treated with Yervoy. You take it as an IV infusion every 3 weeks.

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview," "Treatment of melanoma sin cancer by stage,” "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Cancer Research UK: "Living with Advanced Melanoma."

FDA: "FDA approves Yervoy to reduce the risk of melanoma returning after surgery," "FDA approves Cotellic as part of combination treatment for advanced melanoma."

Macmillan Cancer Support: "Symptoms of advanced melanoma."

National Cancer Institute: "What You Need to Know About Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers."

Skin Cancer Foundation: "Melanoma."

UCSF Medical Center: "Melanoma."

Medscape: “Some Melanoma Patients Living for up to 10 Years After Ipilimumab.”

UpToDate: "Melanoma treatment; advanced or metastatic melanoma (Beyond the Basics)."

American Cancer Society. 

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on August 29, 2020

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview," "Treatment of melanoma sin cancer by stage,” "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Cancer Research UK: "Living with Advanced Melanoma."

FDA: "FDA approves Yervoy to reduce the risk of melanoma returning after surgery," "FDA approves Cotellic as part of combination treatment for advanced melanoma."

Macmillan Cancer Support: "Symptoms of advanced melanoma."

National Cancer Institute: "What You Need to Know About Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers."

Skin Cancer Foundation: "Melanoma."

UCSF Medical Center: "Melanoma."

Medscape: “Some Melanoma Patients Living for up to 10 Years After Ipilimumab.”

UpToDate: "Melanoma treatment; advanced or metastatic melanoma (Beyond the Basics)."

American Cancer Society. 

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on August 29, 2020

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