Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial of dacarbazine and ipilimumab for stage 3 or 4 melanoma (CA184024)
This trial was looking at having ipilimumab alongside dacarbazine for advanced melanoma.
More about this trial
Doctors sometimes use chemotherapy to treat melanoma. You may have chemotherapy if melanoma has come back after having other treatment, or if melanoma cannot be removed by surgery when it is first diagnosed. This is called advanced melanoma. The drug that doctors most commonly use to treat advanced melanoma is called dacarbazine.
- Find out if dacarbazine and ipilimumab together worked better than dacarbazine alone
- Learn more about the side effects
Summary of results
The researchers found that having ipilimumab with dacarbazine increased the length of time people lived after treatment. Doctors call this an improvement in overall survival.
The trial recruited 502 people who had melanoma that was stage 3 or 4. The people who took part had not had any other treatment for advanced melanoma.
The trial was randomised. This means the people taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups at random. Neither they, nor their doctors could decide which group they were in.
- 250 people were randomised to have dacarbazine and ipilimumab
- 252 were randomised to have dacarbazine and a dummy drug (
The plan was for people to have 4 cycles of chemotherapy with ipilimumab (or placebo). When the trial team looked at how many people completed all 4 treatment cycles, they found this was
- 92 people who had ipilimumab
- 165 people who had the placebo
More people in the ipilimumab group stopped treatment early because of bad side effects. But overall, the most common reason people stopped having treatment before completing 4 cycles was because their melanoma had got worse.
The researchers looked at the average length of time people lived and found this was
- Just over 11 months in the group who had ipilimumab
- Just over 9 months in the group who had the dummy drug
They followed up the people taking part to see how many were still alive after 3 years and found this was
- More than 1 in 5 (21%) of the people who had ipilimumab
- Fewer than 1 in 8 (12%) of people who had the dummy drug
The researchers concluded that the people who had ipilimumab with dacarbazine lived longer on average than the people who had dacarbazine alone.
In 2015, the researchers published more results about long term survival. They found that after 5 years, the number of people still alive was
- Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) of the people who had ipilimumab
- Fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) of the people who had the dummy drug
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Chris Price