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Br J Cancer. 2002 May 20;86(10):1534-9.

Autologous cell vaccine as a post operative adjuvant treatment for high-risk melanoma patients (AJCC stages III and IV). The new American Joint Committee on Cancer.

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Sharett Institute of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel 91120.


This study evaluates the overall survival and disease free survival of melanoma patients that were treated with an autologous melanoma cell vaccine, administered as a post-operative adjuvant. Included are 43 patients with totally resected metastatic melanoma (28-AJCC stage III, 15-AJCC stage IV), with a median follow up of 34 months (6-62). The treatment consisted of eight doses of a vaccine made of 10-25x10(6) autologous melanoma cells either released from the surgical specimen or grown in cell cultures. Tumour cells were conjugated with hapten dinitrophenyl, mixed with Bacille Calmette Guérin and irradiated to 110 Gy. Both disease free survival and overall survival were found to be correlated with intensity of evolving delayed type hypersensitivity to subcutaneous injection of unmodified melanoma cells. Patients with a delayed type hypersensitivity reaction of > or =10 mm had a median disease free survival of 17 months (mean 35 months) and a mean overall survival of 63 months (median not reached). In contrast, patients with a negative or weak delayed type hypersensitivity had a median disease free survival of 9 months (relative risk of recurrence=4.5, P=0.001), and a median overall survival of 16 months (relative risk of death=15, P=0.001). Stage III patients with a positive delayed type hypersensitivity reaction had an improved disease free survival of 16 months and a mean overall survival of 38 months, whereas patients with a negative delayed type hypersensitivity had a median disease free survival of 7 months (relative risk=4.5, P=0.02) and a median overall survival of 16 months (relative risk=9.5, P=0.005). The adjuvant administration of autologous melanoma vaccine was associated with improved disease-free and overall survival to selected patients who successfully attained anti-melanoma reactivity as detected by positive delayed type hypersensitivity reactions to unmodified melanoma cells.

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