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Eur J Cancer Clin Oncol. 1989;25 Suppl 3:S31-6.

Malignant melanoma--prognosis and actual treatment strategies with chemotherapy and biological response modifiers.

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Department of Internal Medicine, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, FRG.


The prognosis of malignant melanoma (MM) depends on the level of invasion, vertical tumour size, location of the primary, clinical stage, and sex. Whereas MMs are potentially curable in the early stage of disease, the therapeutic possibilities are very limited in advanced and disseminated MM. Most chemotherapeutic agents lack sufficient activity in MM especially with regard to survival. Dacarbazine (DTIC) is the most effective drug in MM with response rates of 20-25% followed by other drugs such as melphalan with 15-20%, hydroxyurea and platin derivates. Multidrug regimens were not shown to be more effective than DTIC alone. Radiotherapy may be relevant in local treatment of metastases. With regard to the poor prognosis and limited therapeutic approaches in advanced and disseminated MM, new strategies are required. In this context immunotherapeutic strategies with biological response modifiers are of interest for adjuvant or palliative approaches. Earlier trials with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) +/- DTIC as adjuvant or palliative treatment revealed no effect of BCG on the prognosis. Alpha-interferon (alpha-IFN) was shown to induce remissions in about 15% and gamma-IFN in about 10% of patients. A very interesting new approach is the induction and/or activation of autologous cytotoxic cells by systemic administration of recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2) with response rates of 20-25% and the in vivo propagation and transfer of so-called tumour infiltrating lymphocytes. Further trials combining rIL-2 with other cytokines, chemotherapy, tumour vaccination or monoclonals against melanoma cells are required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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