Spontaneous regression of metastatic melanoma is an exceedingly rare event, with only 76 well-documented cases in the literature since 1866. Here, we present the case of a patient who developed metastatic melanoma despite interferon therapy and who then achieved spontaneous regression shortly after a reaction to tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccination. A common theme among these cases is the development of febrile illness before remission of the malignant disease. A brief overview of proposed mechanisms for these miraculous recoveries is presented, including a highlight on the potential role of the herv-k-mel viral marker, a nona- or decapeptide that appears in most melanomas, with homologies to peptides in pathogenic microorganisms.
Keywords: Melanoma; cancer; diphtheria; fever; pertussis; regression; tetanus; vaccination.