Survival of patients with advanced metastatic melanoma: The impact of MAP kinase pathway inhibition and immune checkpoint inhibition - Update 2019

Selma Ugurel, Joachim Röhmel, Paolo A. Ascierto, Jürgen C. Becker, Keith T. Flaherty, Jean J. Grob, Axel Hauschild, James Larkin, Elisabeth Livingstone, Georgina V. Long, Paul Lorigan, Grant A. McArthur, Antoni Ribas, Caroline Robert, Lisa Zimmer, Dirk Schadendorf, Claus Garbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recent therapeutic strategies, particularly MAP kinase pathway inhibitors (BRAF, MEK) and immune checkpoint blockers (CTLA-4, PD-1), have been put on the test for their differential impact on long-term survival of metastatic melanoma patients. Various agents, dose regimens and combinations have been tested against each other vigorously within these two therapy groups. However, results from prospective head-to-head comparative trials comparing both strategies against each other are still lacking. Methods: We performed an exploratory analysis of survival data from selected clinical trials representative for these two treatment strategies in advanced metastatic melanoma. 84 Kaplan–Meier survival curves from 26 trials were digitised and grouped by therapy strategy and treatment line. For each of these groups, mean survival curves were generated for progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) by weighted averaging. Results: Survival curves grouped together by therapy strategy revealed a high concordance, with a larger extent in the first-line setting compared to higher treatment lines. In first-line therapy, the averaged 3-year OS proportions were 41.3% for BRAF plus MEK inhibition, 49.9% for PD-1 inhibition, and 58.4% for CTLA-4 plus PD-1 inhibition. Comparison of the mean PFS and OS curves of kinase inhibition and checkpoint blockade revealed a superiority of combined BRAF plus MEK inhibition within the first 12 months, later changing to a superiority of PD-1 blockers alone or in combination with CTLA-4 blockade. In second-line or higher, BRAF plus MEK inhibition was superior to anti-PD-1 monotherapy throughout the first three years; averaged 3-year OS proportions were 42.4% for BRAF plus MEK inhibition, and 40.1% for PD-1 inhibition. Conclusions: and relevance: These results need confirmation by head-to-head comparative randomised clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Immune checkpoint blockers
  • Kinase inhibitors
  • Melanoma
  • Survival
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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