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Melanoma Res. 2008 Apr;18(2):152-60. doi: 10.1097/CMR.0b013e3282f702bf.

Evidence-based and interdisciplinary consensus-based German guidelines: systemic medical treatment of melanoma in the adjuvant and palliative setting.

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University Department of Dermatology, Tübingen, Germany.


Systemic medical treatment of melanoma is administered in the adjuvant and palliative setting. Adjuvant therapy may be considered in patients with primary melanoma with more than 1.5 mm tumor thickness and with regional node metastasis. Presently no indication for systemic adjuvant chemotherapy or for adjuvant therapy with nonspecific immune-stimulatory agents outside controlled studies is seen. Interferon-alpha is the first substance in the adjuvant therapy of melanoma, which has shown to present a significant advantage to the patients in some prospective randomized studies. Good arguments for using adjuvant interferon-alpha therapy in high-risk melanoma patients exist. Both high-dose and low-dose interferon-alpha show promise. The major indications for systemic chemotherapy and chemoimmunotherapy are inoperable recurrent tumors, inoperable regional metastases and distant metastases (stage IV). As treatment in such situations is primarily palliative, the effect of any regimen on the quality of life must be carefully weighed. As a first line treatment, single agent therapy is recommended, as polychemotherapy or biochemotherapy did not show significant advantages for prolongation of survival; hence they are more toxic. An urgent need for development of new treatment modalities is necessary and general principles of experimental immunotherapy are outlined.

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