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Lancet. 2010 Feb 20;375(9715):641-8. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61921-8. Epub 2010 Feb 10.

Interferon alfa-2a versus combination therapy with interferon alfa-2a, interleukin-2, and fluorouracil in patients with untreated metastatic renal cell carcinoma (MRC RE04/EORTC GU 30012): an open-label randomised trial.

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  • 1Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK.



In metastatic renal cell carcinoma combinations of interferon alfa-2a, interleukin-2, and fluorouracil produce higher response rates and longer progression-free survival than do single agents. We aimed to compare overall survival in patients receiving combination treatment or interferon alfa-2a.


RE04/30012 was an open-label randomised trial undertaken in 50 centres across eight countries. 1006 treatment-naive patients diagnosed with advanced metastatic renal cell carcinoma were randomly allocated (1 to 1) by minimisation to receive interferon alfa-2a alone or combination therapy with interferon alfa-2a, interleukin-2, and fluorouracil. Treatment was not masked. The primary endpoint was overall survival. Treatment groups were compared with a non-stratified log-rank test. Analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered, number ISRCTN 46518965.


502 patients were randomly assigned to receive interferon alfa-2a and 504 to receive combined treatment. Median follow-up was 37.2 months (24.8-52.3). Median overall survival was 18.8 months (17.0-23.2) for patients receiving interferon alfa-2a versus 18.6 months (16.5-20.6) for those receiving combination therapy. Overall survival did not differ between the two groups (hazard ratio 1.05 [95% CI 0.90-1.21], p=0.55; absolute difference 0.3% (-5.1 to 5.6) at 1 year and 2.7% (-8.2 to 2.9) at 3 years). Serious adverse events were reported in 113 (23%) patients receiving interferon alfa-2a and 131 (26%) of those receiving combined treatment.


Although combination therapy does not improve overall or progression-free survival compared with interferon alfa-2a alone, immunotherapy might still have a role because it can produce remissions that are of clinically relevant length in some patients. Identification of patients who will benefit from immunotherapy is crucial.


UK Medical Research Council.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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