Half of all people with melanoma who have had the tumor surgically removed are at high risk of the cancer coming back. Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD, deputy director of NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, is leading a phase 3 clinical trial at Perlmutter Cancer Center testing adjuvant immunotherapy in people with stage 3/4 melanoma that has been surgically removed. Adjuvant therapies are used to treat people with cancer after surgery.
The study, called RELATIVITY-098, is an international trial assessing the combination of the LAG-3 inhibitor relatlimab and the immunotherapy nivolumab against nivolumab alone to determine if recurrence of melanoma in these patients can be prevented. In April 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of relatlimab and nivolumab for people aged 12 or older with previously untreated melanoma that cannot be removed surgically or has spread, or metastasized, within the body.
Dr. Weber estimates that there are several tens of thousands of people who develop stage 3 melanoma every year in the United States, and an equal number in the European Union and other places around the world. If the cancer recurs, people face morbidity, cost, and the anxiety of treatment for metastatic disease.
“The whole idea of adjuvant therapy is to avoid treatment for metastatic disease,” says Dr. Weber, also the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “We think it’s an important study, and we hope to put lots of patients on the trial.”