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Kaehler, Katharina C.; Gutzmer, Ralf; Meier, Friedegrund; Zimmer, Lisa; Heppt, Markus; Gesierich, Anja; Thoms, Kai-Martin; Utikal, Jochen; Hassel, Jessica C.; Loquai, Carmen; Pfoehler, Claudia; Heinzerling, Lucie; Kaatz, Martin; Goeppner, Daniela; Pflugfelder, Annette; Bohne, Ann-Sophie; Satzger, Imke; Reinhardt, Lydia; Placke, Jan-Malte; Schadendorf, Dirk and Ugurel, Selma (24. May 2021): Early Exanthema Upon Vemurafenib Plus Cobimetinib Is Associated With a Favorable Treatment Outcome in Metastatic Melanoma: A Retrospective Multicenter DeCOG Study. In: Frontiers in Oncology, Vol. 11, 672172 [PDF, 5MB]


Background: The combination of BRAF and MEK inhibitors has become standard of care in the treatment of metastatic BRAF V600-mutated melanoma. Clinical factors for an early prediction of tumor response are rare. The present study investigated the association between the development of an early exanthema induced by vemurafenib or vemurafenib plus cobimetinib and therapy outcome.

Methods: This multicenter retrospective study included patients with BRAF V600-mutated irresectable AJCC-v8 stage IIIC/D to IV metastatic melanoma who received treatment with vemurafenib (VEM) or vemurafenib plus cobimetinib (COBIVEM). The development of an early exanthema within six weeks after therapy start and its grading according to CTCAEv4.0 criteria was correlated to therapy outcome in terms of best overall response, progression-free (PFS), and overall survival (OS).

Results: A total of 422 patients from 16 centers were included (VEM, n=299; COBIVEM, n=123). 20.4% of VEM and 43.1% of COBIVEM patients developed an early exanthema. In the VEM cohort, objective responders (CR/PR) more frequently presented with an early exanthema than non-responders (SD/PD); 59.0% versus 38.7%; p=0.0027. However, median PFS and OS did not differ between VEM patients with or without an early exanthema (PFS, 6.9 versus 6.0 months, p=0.65; OS, 11.0 versus 12.4 months, p=0.69). In the COBIVEM cohort, 66.0% of objective responders had an early exanthema compared to 54.3% of non-responders (p=0.031). Median survival times were significantly longer for patients who developed an early exanthema compared to patients who did not (PFS, 9.7 versus 5.6 months, p=0.013; OS, not reached versus 11.6 months, p=0.0061). COBIVEM patients with a mild early exanthema (CTCAEv4.0 grade 1-2) had a superior survival outcome as compared to COBIVEM patients with a severe (CTCAEv4.0 grade 3-4) or non early exanthema, respectively (p=0.047). This might be caused by the fact that 23.6% of patients with severe exanthema underwent a dose reduction or discontinuation of COBIVEM compared to only 8.9% of patients with mild exanthema.

Conclusions: The development of an early exanthema within 6 weeks after treatment start indicates a favorable therapy outcome upon vemurafenib plus cobimetinib. Patients presenting with an early exanthema should therefore be treated with adequate supportive measures to provide that patients can stay on treatment.

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