Phase II study of recombinant alpha-interferon in malignant melanoma.
Ninety-seven evaluable patients with measurable, advanced, malignant melanoma were treated with recombinant alpha interferon in a cooperative phase II efficacy trial, whose primary objective was to estimate the response rate. Interferon (rIFN alpha-2a, Roferon-A) was injected subcutaneously daily for 70 days. Dose was escalated in four steps from three million units to 36 million units over ten days. Eight patients responded objectively and six patients (6%) had a complete response. The median duration of complete response was 11 months. Patients achieving complete response had only cutaneous, nodal, or pulmonary disease; some had extensive prior therapy; some could tolerate no more than three million units per day. Few patients could tolerate the target dose of 36 million units daily for 70 days. Limiting toxicity was primarily fatigue. Interferon in tolerable doses is effective in a small subset of patients with melanoma. Comparison of published trials of dacarbazine and recombinant alpha interferon indicates the two drugs have similar activity.