Studies Report Results Defining New Standards of Clinical Cancer Care

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2011

Susie Tappouni


CHICAGO – Studies describing progress in establishing new treatment standards against advanced cancers, specifically melanoma and neuroblastoma, were released today at a press briefing at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

“The studies presented today highlight tremendous advances in the treatment of metastatic melanoma,” said Lynn Schuchter, MD, the C. Willard Robinson Professor of Hematology-Oncology and division chief, Hematology-Oncology, at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and co-moderator of the briefing. “Until recently, we’ve had limited options for our patients, and little hope for long-term survival. In the past two years, we’ve seen remarkable progress with immunotherapy, and now, a promising targeted therapy.”

“For children with high-risk neuroblastoma, these results mean another step forward in improving the outlook for a very difficult disease to treat,” said co-moderator Lisa Diller, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and clinical director of pediatric oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston.

Studies highlighted in the press briefing include:

  • Phase III Results of BRAF Inhibitor Find Improved Survival for patients with Advanced Melanoma: A randomized, international Phase III trial showed that vemurafenib (also known as PLX4032), which targets the V600E BRAF gene mutation, is the first targeted drug to improve overall survival when compared to standard chemotherapy in patients with advanced melanoma. It is also the first drug to improve progression-free survival (PFS) and response proportion in these patients. If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, vemurafenib could become a new standard treatment for patients with melanoma who have this gene mutation.
  • New High-Dose Chemotherapy Regimen Improves Survival in Children with Hard-to-Treat Neuroblastoma: A randomized Phase III trial showed that children with high-risk neuroblastoma, a common pediatric cancer, had better event-free and overall survival with a combination of the myeloablative chemotherapy drugs busulphan and melphalan compared to a different myeloablative regimen of three chemotherapy drugs, carboplatin, etoposide and melphalan (CEM). These results establish a new standard of care for children with high-risk disease, only 30 percent of whom survive long-term.
  • First-Line Ipilimumab Plus Chemotherapy Improves Overall Survival in Metastatic Melanoma: Phase III randomized study found that first-line treatment with a combination of the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab (Yervoy) and the standard chemotherapy drug dacarbazine (DTIC) improves overall survival in patients with previously untreated metastatic melanoma. It is the first study to show that combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy is safe and effective for patients with advanced melanoma.

For consumer-oriented information on these studies and more than 120 cancer types, please refer your readers to ASCO’s patient website,

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