The lack of effective drugs in stage IV melanoma has impacted the effectiveness of adjuvant therapies in stage II/III disease. To date, chemotherapy, immunostimulants and vaccines have been used with minimal success. Interferon (IFN) has shown an effect on relapse-free survival (RFS) in several clinical trials; however, without a clinically significant effect on overall survival (OS). A recently conducted meta-analysis demonstrated prolongation of disease-free survival (DFS) in 7% and OS benefit in 3% of IFN-treated patients when compared with observation-only patients. There were no clear differences for the dose and duration of treatment observed. Observation is still an appropriate control arm in adjuvant clinical trials. Regional differences exist in Europe in the adjuvant use of IFN. In Northwest Europe, IFN is infrequently prescribed. In Central and Mediterranean Europe, dermatologists commonly prescribe low-dose IFN therapy for AJCC stage II and III disease. High-dose IFN regimens are not commonly used. The population of patients that may benefit from IFN needs to be further characterised, potentially by finding biomarkers that can predict response. Such studies are ongoing.
Annals of Oncology Vol. 20, Issue Suppl. 6, p. vi30-vi34