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Limitations of Interferon for Melanoma Treatment Noted In Recent Study

Giving low doses of interferon for an extended period to patients with high-risk melanoma does not significantly reduce the chances of recurrence or improve overall survival rates, according to a study by the United Kingdom Coordinating Committee on Cancer Research.

The results of what is known as the AIM HIGH Study, which involved 674 patients with radically resected stage IIB and III melanoma, were released online on December 9, 2003 and are set to be published in the January 2004 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer which, if not found and treated early, can spread to other parts of the body.  Interferon, on the other hand, is a protein that increases the capacity of cells to fight disease.  The alpha type, in particular, is considered effective against certain types of cancer.

In the AIM HIGH study, three megaunits of alfa-2a interferon were given three times a week to randomly selected patients for two years or until recurrence of the disease.

The interferon-treated group had a five-year overall survival rate (OS) of 44% and a five-year recurrence-free survival rate (RFS) of 32%.  These rates did not differ significantly from the OS and RFS of patients who received no further treatment following surgical removal of the malignant tumor.

While being male and the involvement of the regional lymph node were found to be significant factors affecting the OS of patients, age was not.  Moreover, analysis showed that factors such as age, sex and stage of the disease did not cause any significantly difference between patients treated with interferon and those left simply to observation in terms of OS and RFS.

Toxicities resulting interferon treatment, such as fatigue, were modest, but still caused 50 patients to withdraw from the trials.

The results of the study, participated in by several universities and hospitals in the United Kingdom, suggest the need for further clinical trials to determine methods of optical care for melanoma patients and for better ways of identifying patients who are at risk of recurrence.

For more information about Melanoma, please visit the Melanoma Directory of the Cancer information Network.  

  Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer Is Diagnosed, Treated, and Managed Day to Day - "This book is a one stop guide to so many things involving therapies that it is hard to know where to start. Cancer patients feel this is the best consumer book out there. Information is in plain English, simple terms, with lots of illustrations."
 
 
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