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Survival Similar for Interferon Regimens for Melanoma

Short intensive and longer lower-dose immunotherapy have similar survival

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Four weeks of intense immunotherapy with interferon-alfa (IFN-α) or a year of lower-dose maintenance treatment with IFN-α produce similar survival in patients with high-risk melanoma, according to a report published online Jan. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dimitrios Pectasides, M.D., from University General Hospital Attikon in Greece, and colleagues randomly assigned 353 patients with stage IIB, IIC and III melanoma to high-dose IFN-α-2b after curative surgery either as an intravenous induction phase with the maximal tolerated dose five to seven days a week for four weeks, or as the same regimen followed by a lower flat dose as maintenance therapy given subcutaneously three days a week for 48 weeks.

After a median follow-up of 63 months, the researchers found that induction and induction followed by maintenance had similar median relapse-free survival (24.1 versus 27.9 months) and similar median overall survival (64.4 versus 65.3 months). The group receiving maintenance treatment after induction had more adverse events including hepatotoxicity, alopecia, nausea/vomiting and neurotoxicity, the authors note.

"There were no significant differences in overall survival and relapse-free survival between the regimens of one month and one year of treatment," Pectasides and colleagues conclude.

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