Elderly patients need more access to melanoma immunotherapy

Immunotherapy offers survival benefits to patients with advanced melanoma regardless of age. In addition, older patients, who tend to be undersupplied, seem to benefit particularly from immunotherapy.

Older people are often undersupplied, despite positive survival rates by immunotherapy

Immunotherapy offers survival benefits to patients with advanced melanoma regardless of age. In addition, older patients, who tend to be undersupplied, seem to benefit particularly from immunotherapy.

A retrospective database analysis included the survival data of about 12,000 patients who had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and of whom about one in four had received immunotherapy. 

The results showed that patients over 60 years of age received immunotherapy much less frequently than those under 60. On the other hand, those with immunotherapy benefited vary significantly from the treatment, as overall survival (OS) was significantly prolonged (< 60 years: HR = 0.64; P < 0.001; ≥ 60 years: HR = 0.55; P < 0.001).

It was also interesting that the survival benefits were much greater in the group of patients who received immunotherapy least frequently (≥ 60 years) compared to patients under 60 years of age.

It could be deduced that patients with metastatic melanoma benefited from immunotherapy at any age, and this effect was even greater at a higher age. In the future, according to the study authors, no patients should be excluded from immunotherapy for melanoma because of their age. However, these results are not transferable to other tumor entities or their responses to immunotherapeutic agents.

Original publication:
Jain V et al, Association of Age with Efficacy of Immunotherapy in Metastatic Melanoma. Oncologist 2019; doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0377

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