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Real-life Experience With Pegylated Interferon and Conventional Interferon in Adjuvant Melanoma Therapy

Rozati, Sima; Naef, Lukas; Levesque, Mitchell P.; French, Lars E.; Dummer, Reinhard

doi: 10.1097/CJI.0b013e31827809c7
Clinical Studies

Interferon (IFN) is the most studied and the only approved adjuvant therapy for melanoma. There are 2 formulations of IFN, conventional IFN and pegylated IFN (peg-IFN), which have been investigated in multiple randomized clinical trials. We have compared the feasibility and tolerability of low-dose conventional IFN and peg-IFN in real life, outside the controlled settings of clinical trials. In this study, we analyzed 99 patients with resected melanoma, who were treated with either conventional IFN (n=48) or with peg-IFN (n=51), retrospectively. The median treatment duration in conventional IFN group was 13.3 versus 16.5 months in peg-IFN (P=0.52). Moreover, patients with peg-IFN tended to have dose reduction or treatment discontinuation due to adverse events (AE) significantly more often. In addition, neutropenia occurred significantly more often in peg-IFN group versus IFN group (n=2; 5% conventional vs. n=16; 36.4% peg-IFN, P=0.00). More than 90% of these patients developed only grade 2 neutropenia and there were no reported infections. We conclude that the 100 µg flat dose peg-IFN, which is commonly referred to as “low-dose,” actually represents a higher dose of IFN, which consequently results in more frequent dose reductions and discontinuation of treatment. The use of peg-IFN is certainly more convenient for the patient in terms of application, thus close monitoring, early medical interventions, and dose adjustments to avoid treatment discontinuation are crucial for compliance.

Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Reprints: Reinhard Dummer, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich, Gloriastrasse 31, Zurich 8091, Switzerland (e-mail:

Received July 4, 2012

Accepted October 1, 2012

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.