First-line treatment of metastatic melanoma: role of nivolumab.
Historically, the median overall survival of metastatic melanoma patients was less than 1 year and long-term survivors were rare. Recent advances in therapies have dramatically shifted this landscape with increased survival rates and the real possibility that long-term disease control is achievable. Advances in immune modulators, including cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 and programmed death-1 based treatments, have been an integral part of this success. In this article, we review previous and recent therapeutic developments for metastatic melanoma patients. We discuss advances in immunotherapy while focusing on the use of nivolumab alone and in combination with other agents, including ipilimumab in advanced melanoma. One major goal in melanoma research is to optimize combination strategies allowing for more patients to experience benefit while minimizing toxicity. A better understanding of the optimal sequencing, combinations, and mechanisms underlying the development of resistance may provide evidence for rational clinical trial designs of novel immunotherapy strategies in melanoma and other cancer subtypes.