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NICE approves new treatment for high-risk skin cancer

Combined drug to target mutation-positive melanoma

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 17 September 2018

Patients with high-risk skin cancer are to get a new treatment option.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended dabrafenib (Tafinlar, Novartis) in combination with trametinib (Mekinst, Novartis), for patients with stage III BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma, in final draft NICE guidance published today.

This recommendation applies to adults who have disease that has spread to lymph vessels, or lymph glands close to the melanoma and who have already had surgery to remove the tumour and associated lymph glands.

The aim of this adjuvant therapy is to remove any residual cancer left behind.

Clinical trial results showed that patients taking dabrafenib plus trametinib had higher rates of relapse-free survival (88% at one year, 67% at two years, and 58% at three years) compared with patients taking the placebo (56% at one year, 44% at two years, and 39% at three years).

Current treatment is routine surveillance, which includes regular check-ups and surveillance imaging.

Commenting on the decision, Mirella Marlow, deputy director for the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “There are currently no adjuvant treatments available for people with stage III BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma, a disease which can cause severe and debilitating symptoms.

“We are therefore delighted that we were able to work with the company and NHS England to recommend dabrafenib plus trametinib as a new treatment option, marking an important development in the management of melanoma.”

According to company estimates 427 people will be eligible for this treatment.

Both drugs are taken orally, dabrafenib twice daily and trametinib once daily. The treatment will be available at a confidential discounted price agreed between NHS England and the company.

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