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Patients with BRAF-Mutant Advanced/Metastatic Melanoma: Original Research on the Treatment Reality in Germany and Austria in the Era of Choice



Cutaneous melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin neoplasms and represents a major cause of neoplastic or cancer death in Europe. Without adequate therapy, the 5-year survival rate is 15% when the disease metastasizes to distant organs. The objective of our study was to evaluate the status quo of the current treatment standards in stage IV melanoma and rationale for therapy decisions in Germany and Austria between January 2016 and September 2018.


In this retrospective, anonymized registry, data of male and female patients with unresectable advanced/metastatic BRAF-positive cutaneous melanoma treated in the first, second, and third line with registered substances were analyzed using descriptive statistics.


Ninety-nine patients (50.5% male) received a total of 172 treatment lines. The first (99 patients), second (56 patients), and third (17 patients) treatment lines were documented. Within the 80.8% of patients with stage IV melanoma, targeted therapy (TT) was more frequently administered as a first-line treatment than immunotherapy (IO) with checkpoint inhibitors (59.6% TT vs. 40.4% IO). Across all lines, patients received TT in 54.7% and IO in 43.0% of the cases. As targeted agents, dabrafenib plus trametinib was predominantly prescribed (72.3%), whereas the monotherapy with anti-programmed cell death protein 1 and anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 antibodies or their combination was prescribed similarly often (50.0% vs. 47.3%). Most commonly, the treatment type was switched from TT to IO or vice versa upon disease progression. The most frequent rationales for prescribing either TT or IO were remission pressure (72.9%) or physician’s preference (45.0%), respectively. Disease progression was a more frequent cause of treatment discontinuation than undesired events.


Patients in Germany and Austria with unresectable advanced or metastatic BRAF-mutant melanoma predominantly receive guideline-recommended treatments. TT was more frequently administered than IO while the rationale for prescribing a specific treatment type differed between the two.

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Sponsorship for this project was funded by Pierre Fabre Pharma GmbH (Freiburg, Germany). Pierre Fabre Pharma GmbH also provided financial support for data analysis and medical writing as well as for Advances in therapy’s Rapid Service Fee.

Medical Writing, Editorial, and Other Assistance

The authors would like to acknowledge editorial support provided by Andreas Zähringer, Freiburg. We would also like to express our gratitude to Monika Schwager (Winicker Norimed GmbH, Nuremberg, Germany) for providing the statistical support in this project. Support for this assistance was funded by Pierre Fabre GmbH.


The authors meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria for authorship for this article, take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, and have given their approval for this version to be published.

Authorship Contributions

This project and the analysis were designed and conducted by B. Edlich and S. Haferkamp. All named authors participated in the development of this manuscript and in the decision to submit this manuscript for publication.


Sebastian Haferkamp is on the advisory board or has received honoraria and travel support from Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Novartis, Pierre Fabre, Roche, and Sanofi outside the submitted work. Mareike Alter has received an honorarium for speakers and consulting roles from Novartis, Roche, AbbVie, BMS, MSD, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Sun-Pharma, and Takeda. Dirk Debus has received lecture, advisory and moderation fees as well as travel and/or participation fees for training/congresses from the following companies: Amgen, BMS, MSD, Novartis, Pierre Fabre, Roche, Sanofi. Bastian Schilling reported grants and personal fees from BMS, grants and personal fees from MSD Sharp & Dohme, personal fees from Incyte, personal fees from Novartis, personal fees from Roche, grants and personal fees from Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals, personal fees from Pfizer, personal fees from AMGEN, outside the submitted work. Patrick Terheyden reported speaker’s honoraria from BMS, Novartis, MSD, Pierre Fabre, CureVac, Kyowa Kirin, and Roche, consultant’s honoraria from BMS, Novartis, Pierre Fabre, Merck Serono, Kyowa Kirin, Sanofi, and Roche and travel support from MBS and Pierre Fabre outside the submitted work. Jochen Utikal is on the advisory board or has received honoraria and travel support from Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, LeoPharma, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Novartis, Pierre Fabre, Roche, and Sanofi outside the submitted work. Michael M. Sachse has received speaker honoraria from Roche Pharma, MSD Sharp & Dohme, Novartis Pharma, and Sanofi-Aventis. Thomas Haalck has received a speaker’s honorarium from Pierre Fabre outside the submitted work. Ingrid Wolf has received a speaker’s honorarium form BMS, MSD, Novartis, and Pierre Fabre outside the submitted work. These authors have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript apart from those disclosed. Andreas Pinter has nothing to disclose.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

An informed consent process was not implemented in this anonymized, retrospective data analysis. The study was approved by the ethics committee of the University Hospital Regensburg, Germany (EC review number 18-935-101) and the Medical University of Graz, Austria (EC review number 30-269 ex 17/18).

Data Availability

The datasets generated during and or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. The anonymized data from the clinical trial is archived according to the ICH-GCP requirements at Pierre Fabre Pharma GmbH, Freiburg, Germany and will not be made public.

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Correspondence to Sebastian Haferkamp.

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Haferkamp, S., Alter, M., Debus, D. et al. Patients with BRAF-Mutant Advanced/Metastatic Melanoma: Original Research on the Treatment Reality in Germany and Austria in the Era of Choice. Adv Ther 37, 3619–3629 (2020).

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  • Austria
  • BRAF mutation
  • Germany
  • Immunotherapy
  • Melanoma
  • Targeted therapy
  • Treatment reality