Clinical Oncology/Epidemiology

The clinical effects of prolonged treatment of patients with advanced cancer with low-dose subcutaneous interleukin-2

Abstract

Thirty-five patients with advanced malignant disease have been treated as outpatients with increasing doses (0.1-100 mcg) of interleukin 2 (IL2) by once daily self-administered subcutaneous (s.c.) injection, 5 days weekly for 8 weeks followed by a 4 week observation period. Systemic side effects were not experienced by patients at the 3 lower doses. Three patients required dose reduction from 100 mcg daily because of intolerance (fever, rash, lethargy, nausea and vomiting) and one patient was discontinued because of dyspnoea. We observed immunological effects at the 100 mcg dose (but not at the lower doses). These consisted of (a) a modest sustained lymphocytosis, (b) eosinophilia in six (out of nine) patients and (c) a significant rise in IL2-stimulated peripheral blood lymphocyte activated killer (LAK) cell activity in six (out of nine) patients to a mean of 2.0 times pretreatment levels (P less than 0.01). Two (out of nine) patients with renal cell carcinoma treated with 100 mcg daily had partial responses of duration 4 and 9 months respectively and a further three had disease stabilisation for at least 3 months. Low dose long-term s.c. IL2 is clinically and immunologically active, and in comparison to other IL2 regimens it has minor toxicity and is easy to administer. These characteristics make low dose s.c. IL2 suitable for study in the adjuvant setting.

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Stein, R., Malkovska, V., Morgan, S. et al. The clinical effects of prolonged treatment of patients with advanced cancer with low-dose subcutaneous interleukin-2. Br J Cancer 63, 275–278 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1038/bjc.1991.64

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