FRIDAY, July 11, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A chemically modified form of interferon improves the chances that melanoma patients will survive and have no recurrence of the skin cancer, according to a new report.
Dutch researchers, who published their findings in this week's edition of The Lancet, said their study found long-term treatment with pegylated IFNa2b cut the risk of a recurrence by 15 percent over a four-year period.
However, the patients' overall survival rates did not improve, and the treatment was discontinued in 30 percent of the 627 patients because of toxicity. The most common side effects in all patients were liver toxicity, fatigue and depression.
In an accompanying comment in The Lancet, two American doctors concluded that the treatment is still worthwhile, however.
"For the large group of patients with melanoma found in their sentinel node, we believe this regimen will be an attractive alternative to high-dose interferon. Some patients with macroscopic nodal disease who would not tolerate or accept high-dose interferon will also want to consider this approach," wrote Vernon Sondak, of the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, and Lawrence Flaherty, of the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan.
The National Cancer Institute has more about melanoma.