Skin Cancer

Cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma (CSCC) is a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer that affects the squamous cells in the middle and outer layers of the skin. CSCC occurs most frequently on sun-exposed areas, such as the scalp, ears, lips, face, neck, and backs of the hands. Less often, CSCC can be in the skin of the genital area.
Preliminary results suggest that an investigational antibody-drug conjugate called DEDN6526A has activity against melanoma, including cutaneous, mucosal, and ocular melanoma, which is considered difficult to treat. The new drug comes on the heels of trastuzumab emtansine, the first antibody-drug conjugate approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of breast cancer. The conjugate links an antibody to a toxic chemotherapy that remains inactive until the antibody recognizes a protein on the surface of cancer cells and releases its toxic “payload” into the cancer cells.
Combination therapy with a BRAF inhibitor and an MEK inhibitor improves outcomes in advanced BRAF-positive melanoma, according to two phase 3 studies presented at the 2014 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). These studies support the hypothesis that inhibition of both BRAF and MEK will improve survival in melanoma by overcoming the mechanism of acquired resistance to vemurafenib, which is thought to be reactivation of cell growth through MEK.
Data continue to build for the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma.
In 2010, there were an estimated 68,130 new melanoma cases in the United States, of which approximately 2% to 5% presented with metastatic disease.

Oftentimes, patients with multiple myeloma experience disease progression even after receiving a stem cell transplant. However, according to a recent study, a new long-term therapy, lenalidomide, can be used after transplantation to slow down the progression of the disease.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), commonly referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), are the most common types of cancers in the United States. These 2 cancers account for approximately 2 million cases of skin cancer annually.1 BCC is approximately 4 to 5 times more common than SCC.2 Although rarely metastatic, BCC and SCC can cause substantial local destruction involving extensive areas of soft tissue, cartilage, and bone, as well as disfigurement.

Continuous use of aspirin for 5 years or more reduces the risk of cutaneous melanoma by almost half, according to results of a case-control study. Continuous use of nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also reduces risk, but only by 25%.


Patients with stage IV or locally advanced stage III cutaneous melanoma experienced higher response rates and longer progression-free survival (PFS) when treated with a gp100 vaccine and interleukin-2 than with interleukin-2 alone, in a phase 3 randomized trial. Tumors in all 185 patients expressed HLA*A0201, which allowed presentation of the peptide vaccine to T cells. The researchers concluded that their results show the potential of immune agents in combination with other treatments in this patient population.


Patients with inoperable metastatic melanoma now have another treatment option as ipilimumab becomes the second immunotherapy drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of cancer. Fortunately for clinicians, ipilimumab also has a new, easier-to-pronounce name—Yervoy. Specifically, Yervoy is indicated for patients with unresectable metastatic melanoma that is newly diagnosed or progresses despite prior therapy.

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