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Karl D. Lewis, MD


ASCO 2022: Does Dosing Frequency and Duration of Anti–PD-1 Therapy Impact Outcomes in Skin Cancers?

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Monday, June 6, 2022

Lisa May Ling Tachiki, MD, of the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, and colleagues aimed to assess whether reducing the frequency of anti–PD-1 antibody dosing would improve clinical outcomes in patients with advanced melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma. Presented during the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting (Abstract 2588), these results concluded there is sustained biologic activity with this administration, although further pharmacologic analysis is warranted.

“Reduced frequency dosing may provide an alternative approach to extending [the] duration of therapy in patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors without additional logistical and financial burden, while preserving outcomes,” stated the study authors. “[This] approach could be utilized to expand immune checkpoint inhibitor access to communities with limited health-care resources, thereby impacting cancer outcomes at a global scale.”

This retrospective study focused on 23 patients with either metastatic melanoma (n = 18) or Merkel cell carcinoma (n = 5) who experienced a clinical benefit with anti–PD-1 therapy at standard frequency doses and switched to reduced-frequency doses. Total drug- and patient-related costs between 2 years of treatment at each dosing frequency were compared.

The median duration of treatment was similar among those on standard and reduced-frequency doses (1.1 vs. 1.2 years). A total of 11, 6, and 6 individuals given standard dosing experienced a partial response, complete response, and stable disease, respectively. In patients with melanoma, the 3-year progression-free survival rate was 100% for a complete response, 89% for a partial response, and 50% for stable disease; the survival rate for those with Merkel cell carcinoma was 100% in all individuals.

At the 3-year mark, any-grade immune-related adverse events affected 43% of participants on reduced-frequency dosing. Of note, among 15 individuals on reduced-frequency dosing with a treatment duration longer than 2 years, the total savings approximated $1.1 million in therapy cost and 384 hours of travel and clinic time when compared with the standard frequency of dosing.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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