Bevacizumab as a steroid-sparing agent during immunotherapy for melanoma brain metastases: A case series

Patricia D. Banks, Arian Lasocki, Peter K.H. Lau, Shahneen Sandhu, Grant McArthur, Mark Shackleton

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Brain metastases are common in advanced melanoma and often necessitate corticosteroids such as dexamethasone to control symptoms and reduce peritumoral edema. Immunotherapy improves survival in metastatic melanoma, but concomitant treatment with corticosteroids may reduce efficacy. Here, we report the use of bevacizumab, a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor, as a steroid-sparing agent in melanoma patients with brain metastases treated with immunotherapy. Methods: Medical records and imaging were retrospectively analyzed for melanoma patients with brain metastases who received bevacizumab at our institution between 2012 and 2017. Results: 12 melanoma patients with brain metastases received bevacizumab (5-7.5 mg/kg Q2-3 W; median 4 cycles, range 1-9). Patients were BRAF wild-type or resistant to BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy. All had progressive intracranial disease after prior resection, stereotactic radiosurgery and/or whole brain radiotherapy, and up to four lines of previous systemic treatment. Prior to bevacizumab, all patients had radiologically defined peritumoral edema and nine required dexamethasone for symptom control. In 10 evaluable patients, six reduced their dexamethasone dose by more than 50%, and eight displayed reduced edema 4 weeks after bevacizumab. Seven patients experienced adverse events possibly related to bevacizumab, including intracranial hemorrhage, hypertension, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Ten patients received immunotherapy after bevacizumab. Five patients survived more than 6 months, including one who remained disease-free after 4 years and without neurological deficit despite being hemiplegic from edematous brain metastases prior to bevacizumab. Conclusion: In 12 very poor prognosis melanoma patients with brain metastases, bevacizumab was well-tolerated, associated with improved symptoms and reduced peritumoral edema despite weaning steroids, and facilitated treatment with immunotherapy that provided durable survival in a substantial proportion of cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere115
JournalHealth Science Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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