Survival Compared for Treatments of Uncommon Eye Cancer

“In patients with advanced uveal melanoma, treatment with the agent selumetinib, compared with chemotherapy, resulted in an improved cancer progression-free survival time and tumor response rate, but no improvement in overall survival, according to a study. The modest improvement in clinical outcomes was accompanied by a high rate of adverse events.”

Editor’s note: Selumetinib is a targeted drug that may benefit people with ocular melanoma. In a recent clinical trial to test the drug in volunteer patients, selumetinib was compared to standard chemotherapy. More patients treated with selumetinib experienced tumor shrinkage than those treated with chemotherapy, and patients treated with selumetinib experienced a longer lag time (about 4 months, compared to 2 months) before their cancer progressed. However, there was no difference in overall survival between patients treated with selumetinib and patients treated with standard chemotherapy. Unfortunately, almost all of the patients who took selumetinib experienced adverse side effects.

Melanoma of the Eye Caused by Two Gene Mutations

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a therapeutic target for treating the most common form of eye cancer in adults. They have also, in experiments with mice, been able to slow eye tumor growth with an existing FDA-approved drug.

“The findings are published online in the May 29 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

” ‘The beauty of our study is its simplicity,’ said Kun-Liang Guan, PhD, professor of pharmacology at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-author of the study. ‘The genetics of this cancer are very simple and our results have clear implications for therapeutic treatments for the disease.’ “

Editor’s note: More and more, oncologists are using molecular testing to look for genetic mutations that may allow a tumor to be fought with a drug targeted for a specific mutation. In this study of uveal melanoma, scientists found two mutated proteins that suggested a drug called verteporfin might be effective. They tested the drug in mice and found that it suppresses the growth of uveal melanoma tumors derived from human tumors. It will probably be a while before the treatment is okay-ed for use in humans, but the investigational process might be quicker than is usual for new treatments because verteporfin is already FDA-approved to treat another eye condition.