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Br J Cancer. 1992 Nov;66(5):850-5.

Recombinant interferon alpha-2b in patients with metastatic apudomas: effect on tumours and tumour markers.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands.


Malignant carcinoid tumours, islet cell tumours and medullary carcinomas of the thyroid are tumours with similar clinical features. In patients with unresectable or metastatic tumours leukocyte interferon (IFN) and recombinant human (rh) IFN have demonstrated efficacy. Twenty-four evaluable patients with progressive tumours were treated with 2.5 megaunits rh IFN alpha-2b, administered once daily subcutaneously, for a median duration of 7 months (range 0.5-37+). Two carcinoid patients demonstrated a response in tumour size, 80% showed stable disease (SD). Sixty percent of the carcinoid patients with elevated urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic (5-HIAA) levels reached a biochemical partial response of the urinary 5-HIAA levels (median duration 13.5 months). In the patients with an islet cell or medullary tumour and an elevated tumour marker, the marker did not further increase. Of the 12 carcinoid patients evaluable for a symptomatic response, ten (83%) experienced a relieve of symptoms. IFN alpha-2b dose reduction or discontinuation due to toxicity was necessary in three and ten patients, respectively. No neutralising IFN alpha-2b antibodies developed despite prolonged treatment. In conclusion, IFN alpha-2b had a beneficial effect in patients with progressive tumours, while long-term IFN alpha-2b treatment did not augment neutralising antibodies. In view of the IFN alpha-2b-related toxicity, administration of IFN alpha-2b on alternating days may be preferable.

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