Radiosurgery, like that delivered by Cyber Knife, plays a big role for patients with metastatic melanoma with spread to the brain. It’s an all too common situation-as many as 25-50% of melanoma patients develop brain metastasis during the course of their disease. And 20-50% of all deaths among melanoma patients are linked to spread to the brain.
But there is now good news, especially for metastatic melanoma patients whose tumors carry that BRAF V600 E mutation – about 50% of all patients with melanoma.
Physician researchers from NYU’s Langone Medical Center in NYC showed that treating metastatic melanoma patients with drugs that inhibit the BRAF mutation after radiosurgery did better than those patients on BRAF inhibitors before radiosurgery for their brain metastasis.
And the survival results were significant with 41% of metastatic melanoma patients surviving at 12 months after radiosurgery and treatment with the BRAF inhibitor drugs compared to 19% for those patients who did not have the mutation. The inhibitor drugs included dabrafenib, vemurafenib, or the dabrafenib/trametinib combination.
Dr. Amparo Wolf, the senior author of this study, told Medscape Medical News, “What we have shown is for the first time median survival of melanoma has passed 1 year.” The paper was published in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of Neuro Oncology and presented at the recent meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
From my point of view, the implications of the study are huge. Firstly, it’s great news for metastatic melanoma patients whose cancer has spread to the brain. Secondly, using targeted therapies, like the BRAF inhibitor drugs, opens up the possibility of using other targeted therapies against many other cancers, like lung, breast, prostate, kidney, and colon cancer. Finally, I believe that the use of targeted therapies, identified by genetically mapping an individual patient’s cancer, and combining a precision drug with radiosurgery is the wave of the future.
If you have any questions about your brain tumor or brain metastasis, please feel free to call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855-Dayton1