Recent reports suggest that recombinant interleukin-2 may be effective in the treatment of cancer patients with low tumor burden. Considering the poor long-term survival, 11 ovarian cancer patients with minimal residual disease at second-look have so far been selected for rIL-2 intravenous continuous infusion therapy: two induction courses (3 × 106U/m2/day: 120 h+ 108 h) followed by three maintenance courses (3 × 106U/m2/day: 120 h) and third-look laparotomy. At present, three patients are still on treatment, three have completed it, and five have discontinued treatment. Sixty-seven per cent of the planned dose was administered in 49 cycles of which 42 (86%) required dose modifications due to hypotension (≥grade III) and nephrotoxicity ( > grade I). CNS and GI toxicity, allergies and fever, even though requiring dose modifications in a few cases, significantly affected patient compliance. The rebound lymphocytosis was clearly dose-related and a significant percentage increase after rIL-2 was detected only for IL-2 receptor positive cells. To date, four patients are evaluable for response after a median follow-up of 7 months, two progressed during the maintenance period, while one CR and one progression were detected in the two patients so far submitted to third-look laparotomy.
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