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Petra Rietschel, MD: Breast Cancer Treatment May Prove Beneficial in Melanoma Cases

October 29, 2012 - WHITE PLAINS, NY

Cancer treatments have evolved a great deal over the last few decades, and many of today's researchers are focusing on ways in which they can combine and cross-prescribe these drugs to effectively combat a variety of conditions. Reuters reports that Celgene Corp has completed a late-stage clinical trial testing the efficacy of its breast cancer treatment Abraxane when used to fight metastatic melanoma. The results of the trial are promising, and Petra Rietschel, MD and other healthcare professionals are looking forward to future information regarding the potential use of this treatment method within the general population.

According to the article, "Celgene is hoping to win approval to market it [Abraxane] for other types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma, which, left untreated, is the deadliest form of skin cancer." Thus far, the only details released are that the patients who have metastatic melanoma and took Abraxane survived longer without having their condition worsen than those who underwent dacarbazine, which is the standard chemotherapy treatment for the condition; however, Celgene Corp. has not released further details regarding the specific success of its most recent trial. With an estimated 132,000 individuals receiving a diagnosis of melanoma each year, it is certain that improved treatment options would benefit the patients who are fighting this disease.

There are, however, other drugs currently on the market with which Abraxane would compete. The article notes that Yervoy and Zelboraf are two treatment options that are already on the market. Dr. Rietschel understands that patients may have differing reactions to certain medications. As such, she believes that another drug would only benefit individuals facing cancer, as it would allow them access to more options should they be unable to take any of the drugs currently offered.

"The approval of Yervoy and Zelboraf for metastatic melanoma has shifted the attention away from chemotherapy regarding this particular disease," asserts Petra Rietschel, MD. "The only FDA-approved chemotherapy for metastatic melanoma is DTIC, which was never compared to any other chemotherapy or even supportive care. With a response rate around 15 percent and many toxicities, there is a lot of room for improvement and the approval of a better tolerated drug with a higher degree of efficacy would certainly be welcomed if the data from Celgene can show what the company is promising."

Dr. Rietschel looks forward to learning more about Abraxane as its role as a melanoma treatment option continues to be investigated.


Petra Rietschel, MD has an MD and a PhD from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Currently, Petra Rietschel, MD participates in multiple programs that span several medical centers, including Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. Petra Rietschel, MD specializes in melanoma, breast cancer, and sarcoma.


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