Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment for Leptomeningeal Disease in Melanoma

Yolanda Piña, Sirisha Yadugiri, Debra N. Yeboa, Sherise D. Ferguson, Peter A. Forsyth, Isabella C.Glitza Oliva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Melanoma has one of the highest incidences of causing leptomeningeal disease (LMD) among solid tumors. LMD patients have very poor prognosis with a dismal survival despite aggressive management. In this article, we review the current approaches in the management of patients with LMD secondary to melanoma, including updates in diagnosis, treatment, up-to-date clinical studies, and future directions. Recent Findings: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytology remains the gold standard for diagnosis, and alternatively, MRI based on clinical presentation can be used. Other approaches such as “liquid biopsies” that detect circulating tumor cells and cell-free DNA have the potential to considerably enhance the diagnosis of LMD from melanoma. As for treatment options, several systemic therapies, involving systemic targeted and immunotherapies have evolved that showed to have possible benefit in LMD patients. Intrathecal chemotherapy, cellular therapy, and immunotherapy are currently under evaluation in Phase I/II clinical trials. In addition, new radiation therapy approaches such as proton cranial-spinal irradiation (CSI) are currently under investigation. Summary: LMD management still remains challenging. Future studies are critical to elucidate the pathophysiology of LMD in order to develop new urgently needed diagnostic tools and therapies. Clinical trials ought to be expanded to include patients with LMD. Future clinical studies should also integrate tissue interrogation, scientifically designed therapies, and aggressive, early intervention in patients with suspected LMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent oncology reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Diagnosis
  • Immunotherapy
  • Intrathecal therapy
  • LMD
  • Leptomeningeal disease
  • Melanoma
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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