Health management program: factors influencing completion of therapy with high-dose interferon alfa-2b for high-risk melanoma

Curr Oncol. 2008 Jan;15(1):36-41. doi: 10.3747/co.2008.200.


The goal of the 1-year observational, multicentre, open-label study reported here was to identify factors influencing adherence to high-dose interferon alfa-2b adjuvant therapy in patients at high risk of recurrence following surgical excision of malignant melanoma. The study was carried out in 23 tertiary-care centres across Canada.The 225 patients enrolled in the study all had malignant melanoma that was surgically excised and that required adjuvant treatment with interferon alfa-2b. Of these patients, 64% were men. Mean age was 51.7 years. All patients received interferon alfa-2b treatment during a 4-week induction phase (20 MU/m(2) intravenously 5 days per week) followed by a 48-week maintenance phase (10 MU/m(2) subcutaneously 3 days per week).Oncology nurses reviewed side-effect management with the patients before the induction and maintenance phases. Patients were provided with daily diaries, comprehensive educational materials, and ongoing nursing support. Data on side effects and discontinuations were obtained from patient interviews and diaries. THE MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS WERE RELATED TO TREATMENT DISCONTINUATION: rate, timing, reason, and prevention. Of the 225 patients, 75 (33.3%) discontinued interferon during the induction phase, and 58 (25.8%) discontinued during the maintenance phase. The main reasons for discontinuation were adverse events (58%) and disease progression (26%). Patients with a daily fluid intake greater than 1.5 L were more likely to complete therapy than were those with an intake less than 1.5 L (64% vs. 36%, p < 0.0001).Of 225 patients enrolled in the interferon alfa-2b health management program, 41% completed the 1-year treatment course. Higher fluid intake (>1.5 L daily) was associated with increased adherence to therapy.

Keywords: Melanoma; adherence; clinical trial; interferon alfa-2b.