In a nutshell
This study examined the long-term outcomes of patients with melanoma who received surgery and high-dose interferon-α (HDI). This study found that HDI treatment resulted in a decreased chance of the cancer coming back after 17 years.
Surgery followed by anti-cancer therapy has remained the standard of care for patients with advanced melanoma. Immunotherapy is becoming another common treatment option for these patients. This type of treatment helps boost the patient's immune system to fight the cancer cells.
High-dose interferon (HDI) is a type of immunotherapy for melanoma. This treatment contains interferon-α, which is a cytokine. Cytokines are special proteins that boost the immune system. Short-term HDI treatment has been shown to be effective for many patients with melanoma. The effectiveness of long-term HDI treatment over several years remains unclear.
Methods & findings
This study analyzed the results of four smaller studies. These studies involved a total of 1912 patients with stage 2 – stage 3 melanoma. Patients received treatment with HDI, low-dose interferon (LDI), or a vaccine called the GMK vaccine. Some patients did not receive any treatment (control group). Patients were followed-up for an average of 12.2 – 17.9 years.
The first study had 287 patients. Half of the patients were treated with HDI and the other half did not receive any treatment (observation only). Patients in the HDI group survived for significantly longer compared to the no-treatment group (3.82 years vs. 2.78 years). On average, patients in the HDI group also survived for significantly longer without the cancer returning (1.72 years vs. 0.98 years). 12.6 years later, HDI treatment was significantly associated with a 1.38-fold lower risk of the cancer returning.
The second study had 642 patients. Patients were treated with either HDI, LDI, or no treatment. 6.6 years later, HDI treatment was associated with a 1.24-fold lower risk of the cancer returning.
For these two studies, HDI treatment was significantly associated with a 22% lower risk of relapse 13.3 years later compared to no treatment. No significant survival benefit was observed.
The third study had 880 patients. Patients were treated with either HDI or the GMK vaccine. 2.1 years later, HDI treatment was significantly associated with a 1.33-fold lower risk of relapse compared to the GMK vaccine. HDI treatment was also significantly associated with a 1.32-fold lower mortality risk.
The fourth study had 107 patients. Patients were treated with either HDI or the GMK vaccine together or separately. 2 years later, patients who received HDI had a 1.75-fold lower risk of relapse compared to patients who received the GMK vaccine only.
The bottom line
This study concluded that HDI treatment can lower the risk of relapse several years after treatment for patients with melanoma that has been surgically removed.
The fine print
This study analyzed 4 separate studies. Each study was slightly different. This may limit the conclusions that can be drawn. More studies about the effects of long-term HDI treatment are needed.
Published By :
May 08, 2019