PITTSBURGH, Oct. 16 - Interferon alfa 2b (INTRON A) unequivocally improves overall and relapse-free survival in adult patients who have surgically treated melanoma considered at high risk of recurring, according to results of a definitive study evaluating the use of this agent and comparing it with one of the best-developed anti-melanoma vaccines, GMK. Results of this National Cancer Institute-funded study (E1694), led by John Kirkwood, M.D., at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), are being presented Oct. 16 at the Presidential Symposium of the European Society of Medical Oncology in Hamburg, Germany. *
"This report indisputably proves that high-dose interferon alfa 2b is the standard adjuvant therapy for high-risk melanoma patients," stated Dr. Kirkwood, director of the UPCI's Melanoma Center. "It is my hope and expectation that these results will motivate many more physicians who treat melanoma to consider aggressive therapy with this regimen, as well as new clinical trials that build upon this regimen. Doing so could improve patient outcomes for thousands of individuals," added Dr. Kirkwood, who also is vice chairman for research at the University of Pittsburgh's department of medicine.
Study results of E1694 showed that when given at a high dose (20MIU/m2 intravenously and 10MIU/m2 subcutaneously), interferon alfa 2b extends overall survival in surgically treated patients, as well as relapse-free survival, or the amount of time free of disease recurrence. Patients who received the GMK vaccine, by contrast, showed significantly lower overall survival and relapse-free survival. (This study did not include an observation group as a control).
Melanoma is the most life-threatening type of skin cancer, causing nearly 8,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. High-risk patients have a 50 to 80 percent chance of disease recurrence without adjuvant treatment, or additional treatment after surgery, according to Dr. Kirk
Contact: Lauren Ward
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center