Inhaled Interleukin-2 Reduces Lung Metastases From Malignant Melanoma
WESTPORT, May 01 (Reuters Health) - Inhalation interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy is effective in some patients with malignant melanoma and lung metastases, according to a report in the May 1st issue of Cancer.
Lung metastases occur in as many as 50% of patients with stage IV malignant melanoma, often resulting in respiratory problems that significantly limit the quality of life in these patients, the authors explain. High-dose IL-2 has shown some activity in other advanced cancers.
Dr. Alexander H. Enk, of the University of Mainz, in Germany, and colleagues gave 36 million IU IL-2 by inhalation 6 days each week for up to 6 months to 27 patients whose stage IV malignant melanoma included lung metastases. All patients had progressive disease despite chemotherapy.
Lung CT scans revealed complete remission (CR) in five patients (18.5%) and partial remission (PR) in eight patients (29.6%), the authors report. Five patients showed stable disease (SD), and the remaining eight patients (1 patient was not evaluable) showed progressing lung metastases.
Complete remissions persisted for a median 12 months, whereas nearly 80% (10/13) in the PR or SD group had progressive lung disease within 6 months, the investigators note. All patients in the progressive group had died by 12 months, most from extrapulmonary metastasis.
Few significant side effects of treatment were encountered. Slight fever (2/27) and cough (23/27) were the only side effects attributed to treatment, the report indicates.
"Because side effects of the treatment were negligible and the patients' quality of life was high, we suggest that inhalative treatment of lung metastases of malignant melanoma might be a useful addition for the therapy of this fatal disease," the authors conclude.
"The high rate of disease relapses in the PR and SD group after discontinuation of inhalant therapy indicates that IL-2 inhalation should be continued until the disease progresses in the lung to avoid early relapses," they add.