Adjuvant Therapy

ADJUVANT THERAPIES 

Early melanoma that has not spread beyond the skin or nearby lymph nodes is usually treated with surgery. Adjuvant therapy is additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment (surgery), to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. Stage III patients that have had surgery and are considered to have no further evidence of disease (fully resected), still may be at higher risk for recurrence of melanoma.

Adjuvant therapy or clinical trials are typically offered to stage III patients after they have had a complete surgical resection of their melanoma. Please consult with your medical team to determine current treatments or clinical trials available for stage III patients.

Adjuvant Therapies in Melanoma

Adjuvant Therapies in Melanoma –
A guide to navigate treatment options

Download your FREE patient guide for Adjuvant Therapy from Melanoma Network of Canada.
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Types of Adjuvant Therapy Treatments


Nivolumab (Opdivo) This is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that targets PD-1, a protein on immune system cells (called T cells) that normally help keep these cells from attacking other cells in the body. By blocking PD-1, this drug boosts the immune response against melanoma cells. This can often shrink tumours and help people live longer. Learn more about immunotherapies.

Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) + trametinib (Mekinist) help prevent melanoma that has a certain type of abnormal “BRAF” gene from coming back after the cancer has been removed by surgery. Dabrafenib acts as an inhibitor of the BRAF protein and slows down or stops the growth of cancer cells while trametinib acts against the MEK protein. Both BRAF and MEK are key molecules that help regulate cell growth. A BRAF mutation signals cells, via MEK, to develop abnormally and divide out of control and grow into a melanoma tumour.  Learn more about targeted therapies.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) This drug is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that targets PD-1, a protein on immune system cells (called T cells), that normally helps keep these cells from attacking other cells in the body. By blocking PD-1, this drug boosts the immune response against melanoma cells. This can often shrink tumours and help people live longer.  Learn more about immunotherapies.

The Following adjuvant therapies have been approved for funding in Canada:

Article: Considerations for Adjuvant Therapy

If you or a loved one is considering adjuvant treatments here are some questions to consider.

Adjuvant Therapy Update

The latest informaiton on adjuvant therapies, presented live in Hamilton by Dr. Elaine McWhirter MD, MSc., FRCPC, Medical Oncologist, Juravinski Cancer Centre

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