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Lancet Oncol. 2003 Jun;4(6):359-64.

Isolated limb perfusion with melphalan in the treatment of malignant melanoma of the extremities: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

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  • 1John Radcliffe Hospital at the University of Oxford, UK. markolens@aol.com <markolens@aol.com>


Isolated limb perfusion is a surgical procedure for delivering a high dose of chemotherapeutic or immunochemotherapeutic agent to a localised area, thus avoiding the severity of side-effects caused by systemic administration. This technique is generally used for treatment of patients with tumours of the limbs and extremities. We have done a systematic review of randomised controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of this treatment in patients with melanoma of the extremities. Four trials of 1038 patients met our inclusion criteria and were analysed. Although our analysis confirmed the reported increase in survival in two of the trials, neither had sufficient power to detect significant benefit for perfusion. Results from the trials showed that prophylactic perfusion has an equivocal effect on survival in patients with limb melanoma. Therefore, current evidence suggests that prophylactic isolated limb perfusion cannot be recommended as a routine adjunct to standard surgery in patients with high-risk primary limb melanoma, but only as a treatment for local disease control if other forms of locoregional therapy are not available.

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