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Vitiligo May Be Sign of Better Prognosis in Melanoma

Patients developing vitiligo during maintenance biotherapy live longer than those who do not

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who develop vitiligo during treatment for metastatic melanoma may have a better prognosis than those who do not, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Peter D. Boasberg, M.D., of the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues evaluated the effect of vitiligo during maintenance biotherapy involving a complex series of IL-2 and GM-CSF injections in 49 patients with metastatic melanoma. Vitiligo is suspected to be a sign of a strong immune-modulating effect against metastatic disease.

Twenty-one patients developed vitiligo and they lived an average of 18 months from the start of biotherapy compared with only 8.5 months for those not developing vitiligo. Six of the vitiligo patients developed IgG antibody titers to tyrosinase-related protein-2.

"Given its early development (median time 35 days), vitiligo may be an early indicator of efficacy helping us to better apply therapy to patients most likely to benefit," the authors conclude.

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