Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) Shows Promise for Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma

By Stacy SimonResults of a small clinical trial show that more than half the patients with Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but aggressive type of skin cancer, improved when they took the immunotherapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab). And the improvement appears to be lasting longer than would be expected with standard treatment. This is a significant finding because there are currently no drugs that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Merkel cell carcinoma. Researchers studying Keytruda and other drugs are trying to provide more treatment options for people with this type of skin cancer.While skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States, Merkel cell carcinoma is not common. It’s thought that about 1,500 cases of Merkel cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. It tends to spread quickly and can be hard to treat. While it often responds to chemotherapy, the improvement usually lasts only about 3 months.Researchers from cancer research centers across the US studied 25 people who took part in the clinical trial. All had Merkel cell carcinoma that had spread, and none had received chemotherapy. They were all given Keytruda. Fourteen of them (56%) improved, including 4 who had a complete response, meaning all signs of their cancer disappeared. After 6 months, 12 of the 14 were still doing well.The study was presented April 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research ...
Source: American Cancer Society :: News and Features - Category: Cancer & Oncology Tags: Skin Cancer - Merkel Cell Source Type: news

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Source: Expert Review of Hematology - Category: Hematology Tags: Expert Rev Hematol Source Type: research
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