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Oncologist. 2011;16(1):5-24. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0190. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Systematic review of medical treatment in melanoma: current status and future prospects.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Division of Dermatooncology, University Hospital Tübingen, Liebermeisterstrasse 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The incidence of melanoma is increasing worldwide, and the prognosis for patients with high-risk or advanced metastatic melanoma remains poor despite advances in the field. Standard treatment for patients with thick (≥2.0 mm) primary melanoma with or without regional metastases to lymph nodes is surgery followed by adjuvant therapy or clinical trial enrollment. Adjuvant therapy with interferon-α and cancer vaccines is discussed in detail. Patients who progress to stage IV metastatic melanoma have a median survival of ≤1 year. Standard treatment with chemotherapy yields low response rates, of which few are durable. Cytokine therapy with IL-2 achieves durable benefits in a greater fraction, but it is accompanied by severe toxicities that require the patient to be hospitalized for support during treatment. A systematic literature review of treatments for advanced, metastatic disease was conducted to present the success of current treatments and the promise of those still in clinical development that may yield incremental improvements in the treatment of advanced, metastatic melanoma.

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