Management of Brain Metastases in Patients With Melanoma

Management of Brain Metastases in Patients With Melanoma

  1. Ugonma Chukwueke, MD,
  2. Tracy Batchelor, MD and
  3. Priscilla Brastianos, MD

+Author Affiliations


  1. Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

+Author Notes

  • See accompanying commentaries on pages 543 and 545

  1. Corresponding author: Priscilla Brastianos, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit St, YAW 9E, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail:pbrastianos@mgh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Melanoma is the third most common systemic cancer that leads to brain metastases. The annual incidence of melanoma has increased over time, with brain metastases developing in 40% to 50% of patients with advanced melanoma. Traditional management of melanoma-related brain metastases has focused on symptom control as a result of the significant neurologic morbidity associated with the disease. Median overall survival for these patients, if untreated, is approximately 3 months. As with other brain metastases, a multidisciplinary treatment approach that includes surgery and radiation therapy is typically used, with historically little role for systemic, cytotoxic therapy. During the past decade, advancement within the field of genomics has led to the identification of melanoma-specific mutations, namely, v-Raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B and neuroblastoma RAS viral oncogene homolog, as well as to the development of agents that target these driver mutations. In addition, the advent of immunotherapies, specifically, agents that target cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4, anti–programmed death-1, and programmed death ligand-1, has increased the potential therapeutic options available to patients with both systemic and brain disease. With these advances, early trials have demonstrated improved overall survival in patients with brain metastases who receive these therapies either as single agents or as part of multimodality treatment regimens.

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