Home Forums Melanoma: Stage III Beginning peginterferon tomorrow?!?!?

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    I am new to this forum, but have been reading some of the other post and getting some useful information. I was originally diagnosed with melanoma in late August when I found a questionable spot just below my right clavicle. It am back positive for nodular melanoma with a depth of 1.71mm. I had the WLE and the SLNB one week later. One node was removed and are back with micromets of .4 mm. Being a healthcare professional I opted to seek out a melanoma specialist for a opinion on the complete dissection. Long story short, I am currently 5 weeks post op from a right axillary dissection. Feeling pretty good overall. Want back to work after about 4 days and resumed my running and weight training this week.

    I have now been referred to my med onc that I saw about 2 weeks ago. He gave me the options for adjunct treatment of wait and watch or peginterferon. He also mentioned some trials, but said he didn’t think I would qualify for any being stage 3 a. I am definitely a fix it now kind of guy so my wife and I decided for the interferon. I really hat the thought of taking this med but I also can’t stand the thought of not doing anything. I am supposed to see my onc tomorrow to begin my treatment. Being in patient care myself, I have tried to do as much research as possible in a short period of time. I am really anxious about starting this med and wondering if it is the right thing to do. I have also contacted MD Anderson and have an appointment in 2 weeks for another consult. What I don’t want to do is wait, but I also don’t want to begin a med that may disqualify me for a better option.

    Any information or opinions would be appreciated



    Hi Wil,

    Sorry you had to join us. You might also want to consider contacting Johns Hopkins to see if you can qualify for this trial:


    This melanoma vaccine trial is a phase I study for patients with stage IIB, IIC, III or IV melanoma who have undergone complete surgical resection but who are at risk for developing recurrence of their disease. Melanoma GVAX is an investigational vaccine designed to teach the immune system to recognize and eliminate melanoma tumors, which may persist at a microscopic level after surgery. In this study, some patients will receive Melanoma GVAX alone (low dose or high dose), while others will receive Melanoma GVAX plus low-dose cyclophosphamide. Cyclophosphamide is a chemotherapy frequently used in cancer treatment. In this study, it will be given at a low dose to try to augment the effects of the vaccine. The purpose of this study is to find the optimal dose of Melanoma GVAX, with or without cyclophosphamide, that is safe and that produces an immune response. The vaccine will be given in the skin monthly for four doses. Eligible patients must be ≥18 years old with melanoma arising in the skin or mucous membranes (such as the nostrils, mouth, or rectum) that has been completely resected at least 2 weeks but no more than 6 months prior to receiving the first treatment on this trial. Patients with melanomas arising in the eye (ocular) are not eligible. Participants must not have hepatitis, HIV, or any history of an immune disorder. Patients must not have received any type of cancer immunotherapy, such as interleukin-2, interferon alfa or other melanoma vaccines. Patients will be evaluated on this trial for 6 months and then followed yearly for 5 years.


    This sounds like a great trial. They may be some trials out there for IPI (Yervoy) as well.

    I’m glad some trials are openning up for Stage II and III cases as there’s just not a lot out there exceept Interferon, which is only marginally effective at preventing recurrances.

    Also keep up with the workouts!! You get a physical and emotional buzz. My wife’s oncologist used to point out that those people who go into the battle in the best physical and emotional shape are always in the group that do well over time.

    I can also highly recommend what Catherine suggests and that’s Minfullness Meditation. Just Google it.

    Good Luck!!


    Catherine Poole

    I would also look at MAGE A3 trial is recruiting at UVA http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/pub/ct/ct15398. Very promising!

    I will post some info on interferon from other experts. But Peg Interferon is especially tough becuase it is a five year program of daily shots, more toxic than regular interferon but not showing any better results. The top melanoma clinics are not prescribing it. But let me find this article by experts for you to read. It also includes the statement by American Society of Clinical Oncology (the largest oncology association in the world) that states interferon does not increase overall survival. (

    Catherine Poole

    Here’s an article by Paul Chapman about deciding whether to do interferon who heads the melanoma program at Memorial Sloan Kettering: http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/10/9/739.full


    Thanks for the replies. I just got home from a visit with my med onc who is a melanoma specialist. We decided to hold on the interferon until I consult with MDA. He said if I started it now it would disqualify me from some of the trials. He said his main reason for recommending this great,net is that my particular case was identical to the subset of patients in the original study that showed increased overall survival with peginterferon. 35 y/o with nodular melanoma and micro mets in a single node. I’m still very unsure of the right choice, but ultimately know it is my choice to make. My onc is very open to having further opinions and working with other melanoma specialists to come up with the right plan for me. Again thanks for the responses.


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