ANNETTE CYR Three-time melanoma survivor, Chair & Founder, Melanoma Network of Canada
There is welcome news to start off We are making progress to bring access of both the targeted therapies and immunotherapies to fully resected stage III and IV patients (previously only available for metastatic atients).Thanks to all of you who participated in the patient surveys this past fall which helped us greatly with our submissions. MNC is a significant contributor on behalf of our patient community to bring awareness of the unmet need for adjuvant treatment for stage III and IV, in the hopes of preventing a recurrence of disease in a significant portion of these patients. We have also worked closely with many families to access interim treatment options.
We have received an early positive recommendation for use of adjuvant nivolumab (Opdivo) from pCODR, (the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review), subject to a final recommendation. Price negotiations between provinces and the manufacturer are still pending the final recommendation, but for some of you with private insurance, you may
have access now. For others, the manufacturer is providing interim compassionate access – please check with your oncology team for details. There are a few more hurdles along the way to having provincial coverage, but this is welcome news. We are also waiting for recommendations on the targeted therapy combination of dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) for adjuvant use, as well as pembrolizumab (Keytruda) monotherapy for use in the adjuvant setting. We will provide updates on our website and via email as information becomes available
We are also optimistic that a new treatment is on the horizon for another form of skin cancer called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC). CSCC is the second most common form of skin cancer in Canada (next to basal cell carcinoma). In certain cases it can be devastating if it becomes metastatic, potentially resulting in death. Cemiplimab (Libtayo) is a new immunotherapy drug known as a checkpoint inhibitor. It works by blocking a protein called PD-1 on certain immune cells and is for the treatment of patients with metastatic CSCC or locally advanced CSCC who are not candidates for curative surgery or curative radiation. We are hopeful that this new therapy will become available shortly for this patient population, which is lacking effective treatment options.
Advances in treatments continue to be welcome news for all of us. If you
or your family member is in need of further information or support,
please contact us directly toll free at 1-877-560-8035. Please remember to always consult your physician or oncologist for specific treatment questions and recommendations. We hope to see you or speak with you at one of our many patient events in 2019.