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J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2012 Mar;10(3):403-12.

Systemic therapy for metastatic melanoma in 2012: dawn of a new era.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.


The 10-year survival rate for patients with metastatic melanoma is less than 10%. Although surgery and radiation therapy have a role in the treatment of metastatic disease, systemic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for these patients. After decades of failed attempts to improve treatment outcomes, recent successes with ipilimumab and vemurafenib have ushered in a new era in systemic therapy. Both ipilimumab and vemurafenib are associated with significant improvements in overall survival of patients in randomized phase III trials, an end point that had proven elusive so far. These breakthroughs not only provide more treatment options for patients with melanoma but also spur the investigation of a new generation of drugs for cancer therapy in general. This article reviews both the current systemic treatment options for metastatic melanoma and promising investigational approaches.

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