Management of early melanoma recurrence despite adjuvant anti-PD-1 antibody therapy

C. N. Owen, A. N. Shoushtari, D. Chauhan, D. J. Palmieri, B. Lee, M. W. Rohaan, J. Mangana, V. Atkinson, F. Zaman, A. Young, C. Hoeller, P. Hersey, R. Dummer, M. A. Khattak, M. Millward, S. P. Patel, A. Haydon, D. B. Johnson, S. Lo, C. U. BlankS. Sandhu, M. S. Carlino, J. M.G. Larkin, A. M. Menzies, G. V. Long

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49 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) antibodies (PD1) prolong recurrence-free survival in high-risk resected melanoma; however, approximately 25%–30% of patients recur within 1 year. This study describes the pattern of recurrence, management and outcomes of patients who recur with adjuvant PD1 therapy. Patients and methods: Consecutive patients from 16 centres who recurred having received adjuvant PD1 therapy for resected stage III/IV melanoma were studied. Recurrence characteristics, management and outcomes were examined; patients with mucosal melanoma were analysed separately. Results: Melanoma recurrence occurred in 147 (17%) of ∼850 patients treated with adjuvant PD1. In those with cutaneous melanoma (n = 136), median time to recurrence was 4.6 months (range 0.3–35.7); 104 (76%) recurred during (ON) adjuvant PD1 after a median 3.2 months and 32 (24%) following (OFF) treatment cessation after a median 12.5 months, including in 21 (15%) who ceased early for toxicity. Fifty-nine (43%) recurred with locoregional disease only and 77 (57%) with distant disease. Of those who recurred locally, 22/59 (37%) subsequently recurred distantly. Eighty-nine (65%) patients received systemic therapy after recurrence. Of those who recurred ON adjuvant PD1, none (0/6) responded to PD1 alone; 8/33 assessable patients (24%) responded to ipilimumab (alone or in combination with PD1) and 18/23 (78%) responded to BRAF/MEK inhibitors. Of those who recurred OFF adjuvant PD1, two out of five (40%) responded to PD1 monotherapy, two out of five (40%) responded to ipilimumab-based therapy and 9/10 (90%) responded to BRAF/MEK inhibitors. Conclusions: Most patients who recur early despite adjuvant PD1 develop distant metastases. In those who recur ON adjuvant PD1, there is minimal activity of further PD1 monotherapy, but ipilimumab (alone or in combination with PD1) and BRAF/MEK inhibitors have clinical utility. Retreatment with PD1 may have activity in select patients who recur OFF PD1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1082
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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