(Family Features) Despite preventative sun care measures like sunscreen and UV-protective clothing, skin cancer remains the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, rates of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, have been increasing steadily over the last 30 years. Melanoma can be mostly treatable when it is caught in its very early stages; however, survival rates can decrease as the disease progresses.
Prior to 2011, the prognosis for advanced or metastatic melanoma, which occurs when cancer spreads beyond the surface of the skin to other organs, was poor with only 10% of patients living five years after their diagnosis. Progress has been made over the last decade in treating the disease, including the introduction of a class of treatments that work with the immune system to help fight cancer, but additional options are still needed. Due to groundbreaking research, a first-in-class dual immunotherapy option is now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Facing an advanced melanoma diagnosis can be devastating, but scientific progress over the last 10 years has given patients a reason to be hopeful,” said Dr. Marc Hurlbert, Chief Executive Officer, Melanoma Research Alliance. “This new FDA-approved dual immunotherapy treatment is an important example of how clinical trials and scientific innovation are helping advance metastatic melanoma treatment.”
A Dual-Immunotherapy Treatment Option OpdualagTM (nivolumab and relatlimab-rmbw) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults and children 12 years of age or older with a type of skin cancer called melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma). It is not known if Opdualag is safe and effective when used in children younger than 12 years of age or older who weigh less than 88 pounds (40 kg), or in children younger than 12 years of age.
This dual immunotherapy can cause serious side effects any time during and after treatment. The most serious side effects include: immune system-related side effects; severe infusion reactions and complications with donor stem cell (allogeneic) transplants. The most common side effects include: muscle and bone pain; tiredness; decreased red blood cell and white blood cell counts; increased liver function test results; rash; itching; diarrhea; decreased salt (sodium) in your blood. Immune system-related side effects may include lung problems; intestinal problems; liver problems; hormone gland problems; kidney problems; skin problems; heart problems; problems in other organs. Please see additional Important Safety Information below.
A Chance to Help Stop Melanoma from Spreading In a clinical trial of 714 previously untreated patients with advanced melanoma, 355 patients were given Opdualag dual immunotherapy and 359 patients were given nivolumab monotherapy, a standard treatment. Patients on the dual immunotherapy treatment lived more than two times longer without their melanoma growing, spreading or getting worse (10.1 months versus 4.6 months).
“We’ve seen immunotherapy, alone and in combination, revolutionize the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma in the last decade,” said F. Stephen Hodi, M.D., director of the Melanoma Center and the Center for Immuno-Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “This approval is significant, as it introduces an entirely new combination of two immunotherapies that may act together to help improve anti-tumor response by targeting two different immune checkpoints – LAG-3 and PD-1.”
This one-of-a-kind treatment joins two immunotherapies into a single medicine. Itworks by combining nivolumab, a programmed death (PD-1) inhibitor, and relatlimab, a lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) blocking antibody. The immune system has T cells that can attack cancer cells, but T cells can get tired. Two immunotherapies connect to some T cells and work in sync to help energize them. Active T cells can help get the immune system ready to attack cancer. Clinical results may vary.
This dual immunotherapy can cause T cells to attack healthy cells contained within organs and tissues in any area of the body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes be serious or life-threatening and can lead to death, and may happen anytime during treatment or even after treatment has ended. Patients may have more than one of these problems at the same time. A doctor will check for these problems during treatment.
For more information, visit Opdualag.com, or speak with your doctor about this new option.
Source: Bristol Myers Squibb
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
INDICATION: OpdualagTM (nivolumab and relatlimab-rmbw) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults and children 12 years of age or older with a type of skin cancer called melanoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma). It is not known if Opdualag is safe and effective when used in children younger than 12 years of age or older who weigh less than 88 pounds (40 kg), or in children younger than 12 years of age.
Important Safety Information for Opdualag (nivolumab and relatlimab-rmbw)
What is the most important information I should know about Opdualag? Opdualag is a medicine that may treat a type of skin cancer called melanoma by working with your immune system. Opdualag can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become severe or can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended. You may have more than one of these problems at the same time.
Call or see your healthcare provider right away if you develop any new or worse signs or symptoms, including:
Problems can also happen in other organs and tissues. These are not all of the signs and symptoms of immune system problems that can happen with Opdualag. Call or see your healthcare provider right away for any new or worsening signs or symptoms, which may include:
Getting medical help right away may help keep these problems from becoming more serious. Your healthcare team will check you for these problems during treatment with Opdualag. Your healthcare provider may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. Your healthcare provider may also need to delay or completely stop your treatment with Opdualag if you have severe side effects.
Possible side effects of Opdualag Opdualag can cause serious side effects, including:
The most common side effects of Opdualag include: muscle and bone pain; tiredness; decreased red blood cell and white blood cell counts; increased liver function test results; rash; itching, diarrhea; decreased salt (sodium) in your blood.
These are not all the possible side effects of Opdualag. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Before receiving Opdualag, tell your healthcare provider if you:
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information here and Medication Guide here for Opdualag.
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