Interferon-α is possibly the most controversial adjuvant therapy for any solid tumor, and multiple trials involving varying doses, routes, schedules, and formulations of interferon-α have increased the confusion. Clinicians are left in a quandary, because high-dose interferon-α-2b (HDI) remains the only FDA-approved adjuvant therapy for high-risk melanoma. Of the three prospective randomized trials involving high-dose interferon-α-2b, all show a significant improvement in disease-free survival and two show a significant improvement in overall survival. Despite this strong evidence, data from studies involving alternate doses, concerns regarding cost and toxicity, and the promise of future therapies have led opponents of interferon to overlook these results. Based on the available clinical evidence, however, high-dose interferon should be offered as standard care for patients with high-risk, resected melanoma. Informed patients who have elected to forego interferon and patients with lower risk lesions can be offered participation in clinical trials with a no-treatment control arm.
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Michael S. Sabel and Vernon K. Sondak
Michael S. Sabel and Sandra L. Wong
Edited by Kerrin G. Robinson
When making a new diagnosis of melanoma, clinicians often obtain imaging studies to rule out clinically occult distant disease. These studies range from inexpensive tests, such as chest radiographs, to more expensive studies, such as PET/CT. The impetus for ordering these studies is usually the desire to identify potentially resectable distant disease, avoid surgery when curative resection is not possible, and assuage patient anxiety by showing that no evidence of distant disease is present. However, some detrimental aspects to these studies are less apparent, including cost and potential for false-positive findings. Although routine use seems reasonable, the true benefit of these studies depends on the probability of clinically occult disease being present, likelihood that disease will be detected with the available technology, and impact of earlier detection on outcome. Contrary to current practice patterns, available evidence suggests that preoperative imaging studies are associated with significant costs and minimal benefit in most patients with melanoma. This article reviews available literature on the role of pretreatment imaging in patients with newly diagnosed cutaneous melanoma.