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Melanoma Res. 2003 Aug;13(4):401-7.

On the effect of biochemotherapy in metastatic malignant melanoma: an immunopathological evaluation.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Division of Clinical Tumour Immunology, Hand Surgery and Burns, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.


Although immunotherapy and biochemotherapy have shown promise, producing a subset of durable responses, for the majority of patients with metastatic melanoma the prognosis is still poor. Therefore there is a great need for predictive tests to identify patients with a high probability of responding. Furthermore, there is also a need for a better understanding of the mechanisms of action during treatment in order to be able to monitor the relevant antitumour reactivity during treatment and to optimize the efficacy of future immunotherapy and biochemotherapy. In the present study histopathological regression criteria were used to study the efficacy of biochemotherapy. Thirty-two patients with metastatic malignant melanoma (18 with regional disease and 14 with systemic disease) were treated with biochemotherapy (cisplatin 30 mg/m2 intravenously on days 1-3, dacarbazine 250 mg/m2 intravenously on days 1-3 and interferon-alpha2b 10 million IU subcutaneously 3 days a week, every 28 days). Pre-treatment fine needle aspirates were obtained from metastases to analyse the number of tumour-infiltrating CD4+ lymphocytes. Therapeutic efficacy was evaluated in metastases resected after treatment using histopathological criteria of tumour regression. Comparisons were also made with metastases from 17 untreated patients, all with regional disease. Regressive changes of 25% or more (of the section area) were found in two of the 17 untreated patients with regional disease compared with 13 of the 18 patients with regional disease and 10 of the 14 patients with systemic disease after biochemotherapy. Fifty per cent of the patients with regional disease showed a high degree of regressive changes (75-100% of the section area) after biochemotherapy. These results demonstrate the occurrence of an antitumour reactivity in the majority of patients. Patients with extensive regressive changes in 75-100% of the analysed biopsies were also found to have a longer overall survival (P = 0.019). In patients with regional disease there was a close correlation between a larger number of CD4+ lymphocytes pre-treatment and a higher degree of regressive changes post-treatment (P < 0.05). Thus, immunohistochemical analysis of tumour biopsies shortly after treatment seems to be a good surrogate endpoint. This technique also allows detailed analysis of antitumour reactivity and escape mechanisms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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