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Stage IV Melanoma Treatment

A diagnosis of advanced melanoma is frightening. However, there are treatment options that can help people in the later stages of melanoma to live longer and more comfortably. Here, we'll review some of the newer treatments that may help you discover a combination therapy option for Stage 4 melanoma patients. The top three of these options are debrafenib with trametinib, vemurafenib with cobimetinib and nivolumab with ipilimumab. Learn more about combination therapy and search the latest treatment options for stage 4 melanoma. These myths and facts about melanoma treatment can get you started.

8 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
MYTH: The combination of debrafenib and trametinib can't make melanoma tumors smaller.

This combination therapy is a form of targeted drug treatment that can help people with stage IV melanoma live longer by shrinking the sizes of tumors. Not only are the two drugs more potent together, but they've been shown to produce fewer side effects than when the drugs are used separately.

MYTH: Combination therapies for stage IV melanoma are extremely limited.

Several combination therapies have gained FDA approval since 2014. Even better, these therapies span two types of treatment -- targeted therapies and immunotherapies. Therapies from these treatment types work very differently and might yield significantly different results from one patient to the next.

FACT: Dabrafenib is sold as Tafinlar, and trametinib is sold as Mekinist.

Tafinlar and Mekinist were both approved by the FDA in May 2013. By the end of 2015, both medications had received an accelerated approval from the FDA to be used as a combination therapy for people with stage IV melanoma.

FACT: The medications Nivolumab and Ipilimumab are more effective when used together.

The combination therapy of nivolumab and ipilmumab is an immunotherapy treatment that enables a person's immune system to attack melanoma cells. In some patients, this therapy slows the spread of cancer cells. In others, the therapy can temporarily stop further growth.

FACT: The combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab is sold as OPDIVO and YERVOY.

Yervoy first gained FDA approval in 2011 as a treatment for late-stage melanoma, while Opdivo was first approved in 2014. By the end of 2015, the FDA granted approval for the two drugs to be used as treatment for Stage IV melanoma.

MYTH: Vemurafenib is sold as Zelboraf, and cobimetinib is sold as Cotellic.

Zeloraf was first approved by the FDA in 2011, and Cotellic was first approved in November 2015. The FDA also approved the two drugs to be used as a combination therapy for stage IV melanoma in late 2015. Research showed that melanoma tumors took longer to become resistant to both drugs when used together.

FACT: New combination therapies for stage IV melanoma are being researched.

Research is ongoing to find new effective combination therapies for people with stage IV melanoma. You could ask your doctor about your eligibility for ongoing clinical trials necessary for the development of combination therapies and other treatment options.

MYTH: The combination therapy of vemurafenib with cobimetinib is another form of immunotherapy.

This combination therapy actually falls under the class of targeted therapies. These powerful drugs are relatively new, and they're designed to target and destroy cancerous cells with specific traits. Many targeted therapies are found to be most effective when used in tandem with other drugs.