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Eur J Cancer. 2012 Sep;48(13):2012-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.11.019. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Health-related quality of life in patients with high-risk melanoma randomised in the Nordic phase 3 trial with adjuvant intermediate-dose interferon alfa-2b.

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Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To compare health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and side-effects in patients with high-risk melanoma participating in a randomised phase III trial of adjuvant interferon alfa-2b (IFN).


A total of 855 patients with histologically verified resected cutaneous melanoma in AJCC stage IIb (T4 N0 M0) or stage III (Tx N1-3 M0) were randomised to: Arm A: observation only (n = 284); Arm B: 1-year treatment: induction: IFN alfa-2b, 10 MU (flat dose), SC, 5 days/week, 4 weeks, maintenance: IFN alfa-2b, 10 MU (flat dose), SC, 3 days/week for 12 months (n = 285); or Arm C: 2 years of same treatment as Arm B. HRQoL was assessed using The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) before randomisation and at 8 pre-defined time-points during 2 years. IFN-related side-effects were assessed by a study-specific questionnaire.


> 80% of eligible patients returned questionnaires at the different assessment points. Statistically significant interactions between randomisation arm and time after randomisation were found for almost all EORTC QLQ-30 variables. While patients in Arm A improved or remained at baseline levels; patients in Arms B and C reported decreased functioning and quality of life, and an increase in side-effects during their treatment. Patients in Arm B improved after the 12th month assessment, when IFN treatment was scheduled to end, to the 16th month assessment (p < 0.001). The same pattern of improvement was found for 5 of 7 interferon-related side-effects.


A significant negative impact on HRQoL of IFN treatment was demonstrated, however the impact were reversible when treatment was stopped.

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