Melanomas in Chinese patients show relatively higher rates of acral and mucosal types than in other populations. However, the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitor therapies against these melanoma subtypes is not well defined. We analyzed 52 patients treated with ipilimumab, pembrolizumab, or a combination of both to evaluate the efficacy and safety of checkpoint inhibitors in Chinese patients with advanced melanoma, particularly those with acral and mucosal types. The objective response rates (ORRs) were 0, 25, and 20% for ipilimumab, pembrolizumab, and pembrolizumab plus ipilimumab, respectively. Pembrolizumab contained therapy was as effective in acral and mucosal melanoma patients (ORR 26.7 and 20%, respectively) as in non-acral cutaneous melanoma patients (ORR 26.7%). Baseline lactate dehydrogenase levels and relative lymphocyte counts were independent prognostic factors for PFS and OS. The incidences of grade 3–4 adverse events were 14% in the two monotherapy groups and 30% in the combined therapy group. The most frequent adverse events were elevation of aminotransferase, skin toxicity, thyroid dysfunction, pyrexia, and fatigue. Treatment-related rash or vitiligo was associated with a better prognosis. In summary, pembrolizumab-based therapy resulted in meaningful efficacy and good tolerability in Chinese patients with melanoma, including those with acral and mucosal types.
Ipilimumab Pembrolizumab Chinese patients Acral melanoma Mucosal melanoma Biomarkers
National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events
Disease control rate
Eastern Cooperative Group
Objective response rate
Response evaluation criteria in solid tumors
Relative lymphocyte count
Relative eosinophil count
Upper limit of normal
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Compliance with ethical standards
This study received support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81272341).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The institutional review board at our hospital approved this study.
All patients provided written informed consent for this study.
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