A new study has shown that 40% of patients with previously treated advanced melanoma were alive at three years’ follow-up after initiating treatment with pembrolizumab. The results were presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting

The researchers followed 655 patients with advanced melanoma, of which 75% had previously received prior therapies, including ipilimumab. The patients were treated with 2 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg IV pembrolizumab every three weeks or 10 mg/kg every two weeks, until the disease progressed or unacceptable toxicity occurred. 

At a median follow-up of 32 months, the three-year overall survival rate was 40% and the median overall survival was 24.4 months. Among treatment-naïve patients, the overall survival rate was 45%, compared to 41% among both ipilimumab-treated and ipilimumab-naïve patients.

The researchers noted that further studies should look at the potential for long-term benefit from pembrolizumab in the challenging treatment of advanced melanoma.