Timing of Adjuvant Immunotherapy in Stage III Melanoma, Does it Matter?

Kristen E. Rhodin, Sin Ho Jung, Kelly Elleson, Danielle DePalo, Richard Straker, Sophia McKinley, Kate Beekman, Lily Parker, Suephy Chen, Matthew K. Iyer, April K.S. Salama, Edmund Bartlett, Giorgos Karakousis, Jonathan S. Zager, Douglas S. Tyler, Georgia M. Beasley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The optimal time to initiate adjuvant immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) following resection remains undefined. Herein, we investigated the impact of time to adjuvant ICI on survival in patients with stage III melanoma. Methods: Patients with resected stage III melanoma receiving adjuvant immune therapy were identified within a multi-institutional retrospective cohort. Patients were stratified by time to adjuvant ICI: within 6 weeks, 6–12 weeks, and greater than 12 weeks from surgery. Recurrence-free survival (RFS) was compared among time strata with Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards methods in the multi-institutional cohort. Results: Altogether, 626 patients were identified within the multi-institutional cohort: 39% of patients initiated adjuvant ICI within 6 weeks, 42.2% within 6–12 weeks, and 18.8% greater than 12 weeks from surgery. In a multivariate Cox model, adjusting for histology, nodal tumor burden, and pathologic stage, we found that increased time to adjuvant ICI was associated with improved RFS. Patients who initiated adjuvant ICI within 6 weeks of surgery had worse RFS. These findings were preserved in a conditional landmark analysis and separate subgroups of patients with (1) new melanoma diagnoses, (2) occult stage III disease, and (3) those receiving anti-PD-1 monotherapy. Conclusions: Outcomes for patients with stage III melanoma are not compromised when adjuvant ICI is initiated beyond 6 weeks from resection. Additional work is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms and implications of timing of adjuvant ICI on long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6340-6352
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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