Original Research| Volume 55, P111-121, March 2016

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Long term follow up of the EORTC 18952 trial of adjuvant therapy in resected stage IIB–III cutaneous melanoma patients comparing intermediate doses of interferon-alpha-2b (IFN) with observation: Ulceration of primary is key determinant for IFN-sensitivity

Published:January 17, 2016DOI:


      • The 25-month interferon (IFN) schedule yielded to better outcome than the observation group.
      • Ulceration of the primary is a strong predictive factor for IFN-alpha sensitivity.
      • Stage IIB–IIIN1 patients with an ulcerated primary had the highest treatment benefit.



      We report on the long term outcome of the EORTC 18952 adjuvant interferon (IFN) trial in 1388 resected stage IIB/III melanoma patients and identify key predictive factors for outcome.


      We analysed outcome of the EORTC 18952 trial (4 weeks of IFN, 10 MU, 5 times/week for 4 weeks followed by 12 months IFN at 10 MU, 3 times/week versus followed by 24 months IFN at 5 MU 3 times/week versus observation) regarding relapse-free survival (RFS), distant metastasis-free interval/survival (DMFI/DMFS), and overall survival (OS), and analysed potential predictive factors of outcome.


      At a median follow-up of 11 years, the comparison of IFN 13 months versus IFN 25 months versus observation yielded estimated hazard ratios (HR) for RFS of 0.94 versus 0.84 (p = 0.06); for DMFI 0.95 versus 0.82 (p = 0.027); for DMFS 0.95 versus 0.84 (p = 0.07); and for OS 0·95 versus 0.84 (p = 0.08), respectively. The impact of treatment was greatest in the ulceration group, whereas in patients with non-ulcerated primaries the impact was null (HR ≥ 1.0). In patients with ulcerated melanoma the HR for IFN 13 months versus 25 months versus observation were for: RFS 0.82 (p = 0.16) versus 0.61 (p = 0.0008); DMFS 0.76 (p = 0.06) versus 0.57 (p = 0.0003); OS 0.80 (p = 0.13) versus 0.59 (p = 0.0007). In stage IIB/III-N1 (microscopic nodal involvement only) patients with ulcerated melanoma the HR estimates were for: RFS 0.85 versus 0.62; DMFS 0.80 versus 0.56; OS 0.77 versus 0.54.


      This long term report of the EORTC 18952 trial demonstrates the superiority of the 25-month IFN schedule and defines ulceration of the primary as the overriding predictive factor for IFN-sensitivity.


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