The use of interferon in melanoma patients: A systematic review

Rossella Di Trolio, Ester Simeone, Giuseppe Di Lorenzo, Carlo Buonerba, Paolo Antonio Ascierto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interferon (IFN) and PEG-IFN are the only drugs approved as adjuvant therapy in patients with melanoma at high-risk of recurrence after surgical resection. Several clinical trials of adjuvant IFN, using different doses and durations of therapy, have been conducted in these patients. Results generally suggest relapse-free survival and overall survival benefits; however, questions over the optimal dose and duration of treatment and concerns over toxicity have limited its use. IFN exerts its biological activity in melanoma via multiple mechanisms of action, most of which can be considered as indirect immunomodulatory effects. As such, IFN may also be of benefit in the neoadjuvant setting, where it may have a role in melanoma patients with locally advanced disease for whom immediate surgical excision is not possible. However, this has not been well studied. The use of IFN in patients with metastatic melanoma is controversial, with limited data and no convincing evidence of a survival benefit. However, IFN therapy combined with novel biological and immunotherapies offers the potential for a synergistic effect and improved clinical outcomes. Predictive and prognostic factors to better select melanoma patients for IFN treatment have been identified (e.g. disease stage, ulceration, various cytokines) and may also enhance its therapeutic efficacy, but their incorporation into the clinical decision-making process requires validation in prospective trials. In conclusion, the modest efficacy of IFN shown in clinical trials is largely a reflection of differences in response between patients. Despite advancements in the understanding of its biological mechanisms of action, the huge potential of IFN remains to be fully explored and utilized in patients with melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Combination therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Interferon
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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