Updates in melanoma and skin cancers

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Published: 7 Jul 2023
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Dr Sanjiv Agarwala - St. Luke’s Cancer Center, Philadelphia, USA

Dr Sanjiv Agarwala speaks to ecancer about the updates in melanoma and skin cancers from ASCO 2023. He covers the updated survival data on using relatlimab and nivolumab in metastatic melanoma. 

Dr Agarwala says that in the adjuvant setting, there was an interesting trial regarding an mRNA vaccine for melanoma. He also talks about the KEYNOTE trial and investigating neoadjuvant therapy prior to surgery for resectable melanoma.

Merkel cell and squamous cell carcinoma are also highlighted by Dr Agarwala in this interview.



What was your talk about?

I’m going to be speaking about the updates from melanoma at the recent ASCO meeting 2023 and summarising the key findings and takeaways from that meeting. I’m going to cover metastatic melanoma where we’ll talk a little bit about updated data with another combination immunotherapy regimen using relatlimab and nivolumab and some updated survival data on that. 

In the adjuvant setting there’s a very interesting trial that was presented looking at an mRNA vaccine, exciting because mRNA vaccines are the ones that made a COVID vaccine. We might finally have a positive vaccine trial in melanoma. Now, it was a phase II randomised study so it’s not definitive but I’m going to present that data as well.

Then some updated data on an older trial that looked at stage 2 melanoma, a KEYNOTE trial with pembrolizumab, I’m going to look at that as well, talk about that as well. 

Then the third topic I’m going to cover is about neoadjuvant therapy which is giving treatment prior to surgery for resectable melanoma. A very exciting field, lots of research going on and I’ll present some of the updated information we have. It’s not yet standard of care but definitely something to consider for patients who have bulky melanoma, regional disease that is resectable. 

Then finally, since it’s a session on other skin cancers as well, I will talk about Merkel cell carcinoma, looking at combination ipilimumab nivolumab in that setting, telling us that actually it’s not better than single agent anti-PD-1. Then the last topic I’ll cover is about squamous cell carcinoma, another skin cancer, usually very curable, of course, but when it is advanced and when surgery is the only option, which is disfiguring, there is now some data that perhaps you can give neoadjuvant immunotherapy and reduce the need for disfiguring surgery, so that’s a good thing. A small number of patients but certainly important.

What is the importance of having events such as BEST of ASCO?

The Best of ASCO is great because it summarises in a short time what was done at the meeting. It’s a meeting that is very well organised, the speakers come prepared with twenty minutes to go over what was a three-day meeting, so it’s a nice way to get the summary. What I find most useful, listening to other people present at Best of ASCO, is that they give a perspective from the standpoint of the context. Getting data, or learning about data, without the context is not useful. You have to know what is the standard of care right now, what is the new data that came out and how does that fit in daily practice. So that’s what I really like about meetings like Best of ASCO.