Interferon-alpha as the only adjuvant treatment in high-grade osteosarcoma: long term results of the Karolinska Hospital series

Acta Oncol. 2005;44(5):475-80. doi: 10.1080/02841860510029978.


This experience of single agent interferon-alpha treatment in high-grade osteosarcoma was based on observed anti-osteosarcoma activity in laboratory models and was started before introduction of aggressive combination chemotherapy. From 1971 to 1990, 89 consecutive patients with non-metastatic high-grade osteosarcoma received semi-purified, leukocyte interferon-alpha as adjuvant treatment. From 1971 to 1984, 70 patients were given a dose of 3 MIU daily for one month followed by 3 times weekly for an additional 17 months. For 19 patients treated from 1985 to 1990 the dose was increased to 3 MIU daily and the treatment duration extended to 3-5 years. All patients underwent surgery prior to interferon treatment. The toxicity was mainly constitutional and long-term toxicity was virtually absent. With a median follow-up of 12 years the observed 10-year metastases-free and sarcoma specific survival rates were 39% and 43%, respectively. Only one of seven survivors after relapse received chemotherapy. This work suggests activity of interferon-alpha as adjuvant treatment in high-grade osteosarcoma. The efficacy of interferon in combination with standard therapy should be explored in randomized trials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Extremities / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / secondary
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon-alpha