Practical guidelines for the management of interferon-α-2b side effects in patients receiving adjuvant treatment for melanoma

Expert opinion

Authors

  • Axel Hauschild MD,

    1. Department of Dermatology, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany
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  • Helen Gogas MD,

    1. First Department of Medicine, University of Athens, Athens, Greece
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  • Ahmad Tarhini MD, MS,

    1. Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • Mark R. Middleton MD,

    1. Cancer Research UK, Medical Oncology Unit, University of Oxford, The Churchill, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, Oxford, United Kingdom
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  • Alessandro Testori MD,

    1. Melanoma Unit, European Institute of Oncology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
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  • Brigitte Dréno MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Dermatology, University of Nantes, Nantes, France
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  • John M. Kirkwood MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Hillman Cancer Center, Research Pavilion, Suite L1.32c, 5117 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
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    • Fax: (412) 623-7704


Abstract

Interferon-α-2b (IFNα2b) is the only effective adjuvant therapy for melanoma patients at high risk of recurrence that has been approved by regulatory authorities worldwide. However, IFN toxicities increase the risk of poor treatment compliance and impair the potential for benefit from this agent. A review of the literature demonstrated little recent attention to supportive care in the management of IFN toxicities. An international group of experts with extensive personal experience in the use of IFNs worked together to develop practical guidelines for the use of IFNs. Practical recommendations were developed for patient education on the use of IFN; initial patient assessment and monitoring, including contraindications to the use of IFN, monitoring and managing adverse events, and IFN dose modification and discontinuation; IFN injection procedures; treatment of elderly patients; and use during pregnancy and nursing. Successful adjuvant therapy of melanoma with high-dose IFN requires close compliance with the treatment regimen. Recommendations for the recognition and management of adverse events are designed to enable more patients to complete the full planned course of treatment. Cancer 2008. © 2008 American Cancer Society.

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