Learn about the latest treatments for metastatic melanoma. We’ve got it covered, from new FDA approvals to emerging approaches in immunotherapy, targeted therapy, cancer vaccines, drug combinations, antibody-drug conjugates, and more.

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    How to Treat Uveal Melanoma that Recurs in the Liver?

    With: Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    A Q&A with Emma Shtivelman, PhD, Chief Scientist at Cancer Commons; emma@cancercommons.org Q: Malignant melanoma may arise from multiple sites, including the eye. What would you recommend be done for a 50-year-old man in the San Francisco Bay Area who was entirely well for nine years after undergoing enucleation surgery for a large uveal melanoma, but has now been informed by his physician that… Read more »

  •   George Lundberg, MD

    A story from Immuno-Oncology News covers new results from a phase 1 clinical trial that indicate promising safety and early efficacy of a treatment that combines the drug Keytruda and an experimental cancer vaccine for people with advanced melanoma.

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  •   George Lundberg, MD

    Overview from Medscape curated by Contributing Editor George Lundberg, MD, who notes:

    The dramatic array of treatment options now available for this serious disease is nicely summarized in this review. (Free registration required, written with a physician audience in mind.)

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  •   George Lundberg, MD

    Article from GenomeWeb curated by Editor in Chief George Lundberg, MD, who notes: 

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda) for solid tumors based solely on whether they have a high tumor mutational burden—a high number of changes in the DNA of the cancer cells.

    Go to full article published by GenomeWeb.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt:

    “A single dose of a programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) inhibitor before resection for melanoma may predict clinical outcomes for patients. Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania—who documented this finding in the largest cohort of patients to be treated with anti–PD-1 drugs before surgery—also showed that immune responses brought on by this therapy can peak as early as 7 days after treatment—much earlier than previous studies have shown. These findings were published by Huang et al in Nature Medicine.”

    Go to full article published by The ASCO Post on March 7, 2019.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

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    What’s New in Melanoma Treatment in 2019?

    Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    It has been over a year since I last wrote about new developments in treatment of melanoma, and it is time for an update. There is certainly some good news for melanoma patients! Neoadjuvant (before surgery) treatments for resectable melanoma Stage III—and more rarely, stage IV—melanoma tumors that have not spread widely can be sometimes treated surgically. Last year a small clinical trial showed… Read more »

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The best part of cancer commons is timely access to a tumor board. It gives reassurance to the patient and family that the current treatment approach is correct and that other options are available.

Caregiver of a cancer patient

Molecular tests help match patients to the personalized treatments that are most likely to work for them. Keep up with new developments in genetic tests, blood tests, liquid biopsies, tumor mutations, other biomarkers, precision medicine, and next-generation sequencing.

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    Metastatic Melanoma: Not Quite Curable…But Getting There

    Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    By 2050, the number of deaths due to malignant melanoma in the U.S. could be three times lower than peak levels reached before 1960. Researchers presented the data behind this prediction at the 2017 European Cancer Congress in January. It is unclear how much of this anticipated decline in deaths can be attributed to the availability of new, effective treatments. However, it is obvious… Read more »

  •   George Lundberg, MD

    Article from OncLive curated by Editor in Chief George Lundberg, MD, who notes: 

    A new study shows that the drug pembrolizomab significantly prolongs survival in patients with metastatic melanoma, regardless of whether their tumors have mutations in the BRAF gene or if they’ve had prior treatment with targeted therapy.

    Go to full article published by OncLive.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

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    Testing for Tumor Mutations: Liquid Biopsy Versus Traditional Biopsy

    Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Update as of August 27, 2020: A lot has changed in the three-and-a-half years since this blog post was written. Liquid biopsies are by now widely recognized and used as a valuable diagnostic and monitoring tool. Many of the reservations and concerns described in the original post below have been addressed and largely resolved by refining the technology. The latest proof of this is… Read more »

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    To PD-L1 or Not to PD-L1: That Is the Question

    Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    These days, it seems that I write mostly about immune checkpoint blockade drugs, or some other new immunotherapy treatment for cancer. This post is no different—it covers PD-L1, a protein that is at the center of clinical decisions for selecting patients who are likely to benefit from treatment with an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 drug.

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    What Determines Whether a Melanoma Patient Will Respond to Checkpoint Blockade Drugs?

    Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Of all cancer types, melanoma is the most investigated in terms of its potential to be treated through immune system-based approaches. More immunotherapy drugs are approved for melanoma than for any other type of cancer, and more are in development. Recent additions to the immunotherapy arsenal are the ‘anti-PD-1’ immune checkpoint blockade drugs pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo).

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Some of the most promising new treatments for metastatic melanoma are currently being tested in patients enrolled in clinical trials. We help you stay up to date on the latest results from these studies.

  •   George Lundberg, MD

    Research highlight from Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology curated by Editor in Chief George Lundberg, MD, who notes: 

    In a clinical trial for metastatic melanoma patients, a combination of the drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab (both “immune checkpoint inhibitors,” or ICIs) outperformed nivolumab on its own, and nivolumab on its own outperformed a placebo.

    Go to full research highlight published by Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt from MedPage Today:

    “Combination neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade therapy yielded promising outcomes in high-risk resectable melanoma, although toxicity was an issue, according to a phase II trial.

    “The combination of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo) led to improved progression-free survival (PFS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), and overall survival (OS) versus neoadjuvant nivolumab monotherapy in 23 patients with high-risk resectable melanoma, reported Jennifer A. Wargo, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues in Nature Medicine.”

    Go to full article published by MedPage Today on Oct 11, 2018.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt from Cancer Network:

    “The combination of encorafenib and binimetinib resulted in longer overall survival (OS) compared with vemurafenib in patients with BRAF V600–mutant melanoma, according to results of the COLUMBUS trial. Combined with an earlier report showing improved progression-free survival (PFS), this suggests the regimen should become an important option in this setting.

    “Small-molecule BRAF inhibitors, originally introduced as monotherapy, offered improvements in outcomes for these melanoma patients. ‘However, response durations were short and BRAF inhibitor treatment was associated with the development of squamous cell skin cancer and other skin toxicities related to paradoxical MAPK pathway activation,’ wrote study authors led by Reinhard Dummer, MD, of University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland. Combinations of BRAF and MEK inhibition have improved the situation further, but better treatment options are still needed.”

    Go to full article published by Cancer Network on Sep 26, 2018.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt from Cancer Network:

    “A phase I trial found promising activity and good tolerability with the combination of pembrolizumab and a stimulant of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) known as SD-101 in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma, particularly in those who had not received prior anti–programmed death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) therapy.

    “PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition has improved outcomes in metastatic melanoma, and studies have indicated that combination therapy can increase immune responses further. “Despite the improvement in response rates with combination immunotherapy, a large unmet need remains,” wrote study authors led by Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

    Go to full article published by Cancer Network on Sep 5, 2018.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt from The ASCO Post:

    In patients with advanced BRAF V600–mutant melanoma, combining the BRAF inhibitor encorafenib (Braftovi) with the MEK inhibitor binimetinib (Mektovi) improved overall survival compared to vemurafenib (Zelboraf) or encorafenib as monotherapy, with a favorable toxicity profile, according to updated results from the phase III COLUMBUS trial.

    “Combined BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy is standard of care in advanced BRAF V600–mutant melanoma, but approved combinations have unique toxicities that may impact the ability to deliver optimal treatment (ie, vemurafenib/cobimetinib [Cotellic] is associated with photosensitivity).”

    Go to full article published by The ASCO Post on Sep 10, 2018.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

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In a field as complex and dynamic as molecular oncology in 2020, Cancer Commons offers an amazing opportunity for patients with advanced cancer to obtain scientifically up-to-date additional options that may improve both the length and quality of their lives, all free of charge.

Gavin Gordon, PhD
Molecular Pathologist

Cancer affects many aspects of life, whether you’re newly diagnosed, in the midst of treatment, or in follow-up care. Learn about ways to maintain quality of life, such as palliative care and managing side effects.

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    Pediatric Palliative Care: A Specialty Comes of Age

    Sarah Friebert, MD

    For a child with cancer, palliative care can provide much-needed relief from stress and symptoms—for the patient and their family alike. Palliative care is given alongside cancer treatment, and is not synonymous with “end-of-life” care. In fact, anyone with a serious illness can benefit from palliative care, no matter their long-term outlook. Because of its importance for children with cancer, we are honored to… Read more »

  •   George Lundberg, MD

    Article from Medscape curated by Editor in Chief George Lundberg, MD, who notes: 

    Depression is, for obvious reasons, common in patients with advanced cancer. The old, inexpensive drug ketamine—already approved for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—seems rapidly effective, according to small studies.

    Go to full article published by Medscape.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

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    Emphasizing Oncogeriatrics

    With: Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti, MD

    A Q&A with Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti, MD, Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom, and Chair of the Young Interest Group of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG); nicolo.battisti@gmail.com Q: Everyone knows that the practice of pediatric oncology is very different from adult oncology. How does the growing field of oncogeriatrics differ from usual adult oncology? A:… Read more »

  •   Emma Shtivelman, PhD

    Excerpt:

    “People with a type of skin cancer who consumed a high-fiber diet responded better to immunotherapy treatment than those with poorer diets, according to data presented at a media preview of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting.

    “Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which although very treatable if caught early, still kills approximately 9,000 Americans a year, mainly people who are diagnosed a more advanced stage of disease where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.”

    Go to full article published by Forbes on Feb 27, 2019.

    If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to get support from Cancer Commons.

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    Best Uses of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Patients with Cancer

    With: Val Jones, MD

    A Q&A with Val Jones, MD, Medical Director of Admissions, Saint Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane, WA Originally published February 1, 2017 Q: Your principal practice in Spokane, Washington is physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). What do you find to be the best uses of PM&R in patients with cancer at your facility? A: Rehabilitation medicine is one of the best-kept secrets in healthcare. Although the… Read more »

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    Huge Progress in Palliative Care

    With: Diane E. Meier, MD, FACP

    A Q&A with Diane E. Meier, MD, FACP, Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care; Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; New York, NY; diane.meier@mssm.edu Originally published November 8, 2017 Q: You wrote in MedGenMed in 2007 that palliative care was the job of all hospitals. In October 2017 you were honored at the National Academy of Medicine for… Read more »

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You’re not alone. Read how other patients and caregivers navigated diagnosis, treatment, and life with cancer. We hope their stories provide insights and hope for your own cancer journey.

More patient stories

Learn more about what’s new in advanced cancer research and treatment, including screening and statistics, using artificial intelligence to improve treatment, and other new horizons in cancer care.

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    Rankings of Most Common and Deadly Cancer Types Will Shift Over Next Two Decades

    In the next two decades, rankings of incidence and death across cancer types will undergo important changes in the U.S., according to new research led by Lola Rahib, PhD, Director of Scientific and Clinical Affairs at Cancer Commons, as well as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Published today in JAMA Network Open,… Read more »

  •   George Lundberg, MD

    This piece from ASCO Connection outlines the need for and a path to improvement in cancer care for LGBTQIA patients.

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    Can Really Big Data Inform Precise Decisions for Individual Patients?

    With: Matvey B. Palchuk, MD, MS, FAMIA

    New technologies are transforming cancer research. By optimizing research protocols and leveraging data more efficiently and intelligently, these tools hold the promise to improve personalized cancer care. Here, our Curious Dr. George asks Matvey B. Palchuk, MD, MS, FAMIA, VP of Informatics at TriNetX, LLC, about the capabilities of his company’s platform. Curious Dr. George: Translational medicine has evolved to include personalized medicine and… Read more »

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    How to Learn About Cancer in a Classroom: Shaping Compassionate Doctors

    With: Marin Langlieb

    The patients and caregivers we serve here at Cancer Commons rely on their doctors to provide expert, compassionate care. Building the skills to give such care can begin early in a doctor’s education. Here, for a change of pace, our Curious Dr. George asks a future doctor about a unique experience that helped her learn how to connect with cancer patients. Marin Langlieb is… Read more »

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    Is Cancer the Best Way to Die?

    With: Richard Smith, CBE, FMedSci

    In 2014, the prestigious medical research journal The BMJ published a controversial piece called “Dying of cancer is the best death.” Here, our Curious Dr. George asks the author of that piece, Richard Smith, CBE, FMedSci, if and how his thoughts on death have since evolved. Dr. Smith was Editor of The BMJ from 1991 to 2004 and is currently Chair of the Lancet Commission… Read more »

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    The Power of Precision Medicine is Exemplified by Tempus

    With: Nike Beaubier, MDNamratha Sastry, PhD

    Tempus—a tech company & partner of Cancer Commons—empowers doctors to make data-driven decisions for their patients in real time. Learn how.

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The coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to cancer patients. We can help you understand how COVID-19 might impact your treatment and other aspects of your cancer care.