Melanoma is the most common skin cancer in the UK and is characterised by changes to mole size or shape. It is when melanocytes (cells that give skin its tan or brown colour) grow uncontrollably. Stage II melanoma is where the cancer has spread locally, as opposed to other areas of the body, and can result in a larger tumour sometimes with broken skin. Patients with high-risk stage 2 melanoma cancer may have an increased chance of the cancer returning after surgical resection (removal of the tumour) because of the tumour being thicker and deeper in the skin, which makes it difficult to remove all cancerous cells. There is currently no recommended systemic treatment after surgical resection if the cancer comes back in patients with stage II melanoma.
Pembrolizumab is an antibody that promotes the body’s immune response against cancerous cells, by preventing cancers cells from stopping immune cells being produced. Pembrolizumab is given by an intravenous infusion (injection into the vein) once every three weeks and if licensed, will offer an additional treatment option following surgery for patients with stage II melanoma.