Pathological response and survival with neoadjuvant therapy in melanoma: a pooled analysis from the International Neoadjuvant Melanoma Consortium (INMC)
The association among pathological response, recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) with neoadjuvant therapy in melanoma remains unclear. In this study, we pooled data from six clinical trials of anti-PD-1-based immunotherapy or BRAF/MEK targeted therapy. In total, 192 patients were included; 141 received immunotherapy (104, combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab; 37, anti-PD-1 monotherapy), and 51 received targeted therapy. A pathological complete response (pCR) occurred in 40% of patients: 47% with targeted therapy and 33% with immunotherapy (43% combination and 20% monotherapy). pCR correlated with improved RFS (pCR 2-year 89% versus no pCR 50%, P<0.001) and OS (pCR 2-year OS 95% versus no pCR 83%, P=0.027). In patients with pCR, near pCR or partial pathological response with immunotherapy, very few relapses were seen (2-year RFS 96%), and, at this writing, no patient has died from melanoma, whereas, even with pCR from targeted therapy, the 2-year RFS was only 79%, and OS was only 91%. Pathological response should be an early surrogate endpoint for clinical trials and a new benchmark for development and approval in melanoma.