Topical interferon alfa in the treatment of conjunctival melanoma and primary acquired melanosis complex

Am J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jan;145(1):124-129. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2007.08.027. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Purpose: To report on topical interferon alfa-2b for conjunctival malignant melanoma (CMM) and primary acquired melanosis with atypia (PAM).

Design: Retrospective, interventional case series.

Methods: Five eyes of five consecutive patients with biopsy-proven malignant melanoma were treated with topical interferon alfa-2b as treatment for primary or recurrent disease. One drop of interferon alfa-2b (1 million units/ml) was placed into the superior fornix four times daily for three months. Punctal plugs limited systemic absorption. The main outcome measure was tumor regression by clinical examination and comparative slit-lamp photography.

Results: Five consecutive patients with conjunctival melanoma (American Joint Committee on Cancer-International Union Against Cancer stages T2 [n = 3] and T3 [n = 2]) were included. Two patients had recurrent corneal tumors, eight and 13 months after local excision, cryotherapy, and topical mitomycin C therapy. Two months after topical interferon alfa-2b treatment, the lesions regressed without side effects. Two additional patients (who could not tolerate topical mitomycin C) were switched to topical interferon alfa-2b. They experienced transient chemical conjunctivitis and have no signs of recurrence (mean, 15 months of follow-up). The fifth had recurrent tumor despite multiple surgeries. This melanoma did not respond to topical interferon alfa-2b nor did the patient tolerate treatment (keratoconjunctivitis). No systemic side effects were noted.

Conclusions: We present evidence that conjunctival and corneal melanoma regresses after exposure to topical interferon alfa-2b. A larger-scale longer-term study must evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of this therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanosis / drug therapy*
  • Melanosis / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Recombinant Proteins