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Available Treatment Options Helps Decrease Melanoma Mortality Rate


New research suggests new pharmacological therapies are associated with a decrease in melanoma-related deaths.

Newly released research suggests that new treatments for cutaneous melanoma are responsible for a lower mortality rate among adult patients in the US.1

Researchers at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Science in Toledo, Ohio used a population-based cross-sectional study of patients with cutaneous melanoma from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database from 1975 to 2019. They found the melanoma mortality rate (MMR) decreased from 2013 to 2017 for the first time in the past 40 years in the US, based on the new treatment options that became available in 2013.

Data was analyzed from March 15 to August 15, 2022. Mortality rates reported in the SEER database are per 100 ,000 population and age-adjusted to the 2000 US standard population. The source of mortality data for SEER is the US Mortality Files, National Center for Health Statistics, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The annual percent change (APC) with 95% CI and P value has been used to report long-term trends. The timeline for FDA approvals for melanoma treatment was reviewed to determine any temporal association with MMR trends. Recently, the FDA approved nivolumab and relatlimab, a lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG-3)–blocking antibody, for patients with advanced melanoma, which researchers say seems to have a better toxicity profile.

Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, historically known for its extremely poor prognosis after metastasis. Globally, it causes an estimated 57 000 deaths annually. The traditional approach for treating metastatic melanoma was sequential chemotherapy, which was associated with little overall survival benefit. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved new and effective therapies for melanoma in the last decade, including multiple checkpoint inhibitors such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) inhibitors and multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Pivotal clinical trials have shown these therapies to be widely effective and associated with an improved survival rate. Historically, the prognosis of metastatic melanoma with cytotoxic chemotherapy has been poor. However, with the use of novel therapies, the 5-year overall survival rate has increased from 5% to greater than 50%.


Kahlon N, Doddi S, Yousif R, et al. Melanoma treatments and mortality rate trends in the US, 1975 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(12):e2245269. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.45269

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