Breakthrough for eye melanoma


For the first time, a systemic treatment has been found to be effective for a rare form of melanoma that affects the eye. This cancer is known as uveal melanoma, and it is one of the most challenging cancers to treat. Now comes an exciting report from the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology pointing to a practice-changing development. A drug known as a MEK inhibitor appears to improve clinical outcomes for advanced disease. With the use of the drug Selumetinib, 50% of patients had some tumor shrinkage, and 15% had major tumor shrinkage. In the control arm (treatment with temozolomide), not a single patient had significant tumor shrinkage. The bottom line? This is the first study any systemic therapy has been shown to work among patients with ocular melanoma.

But… the drug will probably not be on the market for a couple of years. In this context, if you have advanced uveal melanoma, ask about clinical trials in which you might participate. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter

Addendum: MEK is a molecule that is activated by something called BRAF. When BRAF is mutated (changed) in melanoma, it directly activates MEK and unleashs a host of negative effects.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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