Treating brain metastases in melanoma: What is the optimal CNS-directed and systemic management?
Thomas G. Wilson, Helen Winter, Hannah Taylor and Christopher Herbert
Treatments for melanoma have significantly advanced with the approval of targeted treatments against the BRAF/MEK pathway and immunotherapy in the form of checkpoint inhibitors. Studies have shown the effectiveness of these treatments against brain metastases. However, the optimum treatment strategy utilising CNS-directed treatments such as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and neurosurgical resection is less clear.
Over six years, 70 patients with metastatic melanoma were treated for brain metastases at a tertiary treatment centre. The median overall survival (OS) for all patients was 10.2 months. 51 patients received localised treatment; 7 resection (median OS 10 months), 11 resection and SRS (median OS 17.3 months) and 33 SRS alone (median OS 17.4 months). For patients treated with SRS those who had <2 cm3 treated had a better median OS (20.5 months) compared to those who had >2 cm3 treated (12 months).
69 Patients received systemic treatment. The median OS of patients who did not have CNS-directed treatment was poor (median OS 1.2 months). Patients treated with first line dual immunotherapy had the best median OS (26.7 months), compared to anti-PD-1 (14.1 months), ipilimumab (14.3 months) and kinase inhibitors (10.9 months).
Despite advancements in treatment, the development of brain metastases in melanoma is associated with worse outcomes. A combination of CNS-directed and systemic treatment is important to improve survival. Dual immunotherapy appears to be the most effective systemic treatment and the use of SRS improved outcomes. As metastatic melanoma treatments evolve there need to be an ongoing focus to ensure these strategies adequately treat intracranial disease.
Keywords: Stereotactic radiosurgery, melanoma, systemic treatment, CNS-directed treatment, immunotherapy
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