Patients with advanced melanoma may live longer when treated with a combination of ipilimumab (Yervoy) and sargramostim, compared to being treated with ipilimumab alone, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

F. Stephen Hodi, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues randomly assigned 245 patients with advanced melanoma to treatment with intravenous ipilimumab alone or ipilimumab plus injections of sargramostim.

The researchers found that patients given the two drugs had a median survival of 17.5 months, compared to 12.7 months for those on ipilimumab alone. At one year, overall survival was nearly 69 percent for those on the combination therapy, versus 53 percent for those on ipilimumab alone.

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While the dual-therapy group tended to live longer, both groups had similar time-to-disease progression — 3.1 months. Fewer patients on the drug combination suffered serious gastrointestinal problems.

“Patients did live longer, as well as having less serious side effects, when given the combination,” Hodi told HealthDay. “The future is really with combination therapies, how we combine targeted therapies, and the results of this trial suggest that the combination of sargramostim and ipilimumab should be part of that mix,” he added.


  1. Hodi, F. Stephen, MD, et al. “Ipilimumab Plus Sargramostim vs Ipilimumab Alone for Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.13943. November 5, 2014.