Purpose: To test the efficacy of 4 weeks of intravenous (IV) induction with high-dose interferon (IFN) as part of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group regimen compared with observation (OBS) in patients with surgically resected intermediate-risk melanoma.
Patients and Methods: In this intergroup international trial, eligible patients had surgically resected cutaneous melanoma in the following categories: (1) T2bN0, (2) T3a-bN0, (3) T4a-bN0, and (4) T1-4N1a-2a (microscopic). Patients were randomly assigned to receive IFN α-2b at 20 MU/m2/d IV for 5 days (Monday to Friday) every week for 4 weeks (IFN) or OBS. Stratification factors were pathologic lymph node status, lymph node staging procedure, Breslow depth, ulceration of the primary lesion, and disease stage. The primary end point was relapse-free survival. Secondary end points included overall survival, toxicity, and quality of life.
Results: A total of 1,150 patients were randomly assigned. At a median follow-up of 7 years, the 5-year relapse-free survival rate was 0.70 (95% CI, 0.66 to 0.74) for OBS and 0.70, (95% CI, 0.66 to 0.74) for IFN (P = .964). The 5-year overall survival rate was 0.83 (95% CI, 0.79 to 0.86) for OBS and 0.83 (95% CI, 0.80 to 0.86) for IFN (P = .558). Treatment-related grade 3 and higher toxicity was 4.6% versus 57.9% for OBS and IFN, respectively (P < .001). Quality of life was worse for the treated group.
Conclusion: Four weeks of IV induction as part of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group high-dose IFN regimen is not better than OBS alone for patients with intermediate-risk melanoma as defined in this trial.