Treatment with pembrolizumab better maintained health-related quality of life compared with chemotherapy in patients with advanced melanoma refractory to ipilimumab, a secondary analysis of a phase 2 study has shown.1

The KEYNOTE-002 trial (Study of Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) Versus Chemotherapy in Participants With Advanced Melanoma; Identifier: NCT01704287) demonstrated that pembrolizumab significantly improved progression-free survival and was associated with a more manageable safety profile vs standard chemotherapy in patients with melanoma who progressed after prior therapy.

For the study, 540 patients were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to receive pembrolizumab at 1 of 2 doses or investigator’s choice of chemotherapy (carboplatin, paclitaxel, dacarbazine, or temozolomide). Researchers assessed health-related quality of life using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life Questionnaire-Core 30 instrument.

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Results showed that from baseline to week 12, global health status/health-related quality of life scores were maintained to a higher extent in the pembrolizumab groups compared with the chemotherapy arm (P =.01).

In addition, fewer pembrolizumab-treated patients reported deterioration in global health status at week 12, with approximately 10% more patients treated with chemotherapy experiencing worsening in health-related quality of life by week 12.

However, the authors note that regardless of treatment, health-related quality of life decreased in patients who experienced progression of their disease.

Ultimately, these findings further support the use of pembrolizumab in this patient population.


1. Schadendorf D, Dummer R, Hauschild A, et al. Health-related quality of life in the randomised KEYNOTE-002 study of pembrolizumab versus chemotherapy in patients with ipilimumab-refractory melanoma. Eur J Cancer. 2016 Sep 2. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.07.018. [Epub ahead of print]