Interferon Or Not?

Posted By
7/25/2011 6:05pm
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Replies: 8

Seeing Oncologist Wednesday to make a decision on treatment.  Stage 2b, Clark V, 6mm.  Any thoughts from those who have done it would be appreciated.

Teodora - (7/25/2011 - 7:04pm)


I was initially dagnosed with stage 2b too.There are many knowledgable people on this board  who will tell you that Interferon is a very personal decison-and it is;after doing my research, I decided against Interferon-it is very toxic treatment with very bad side effects.If you type "interferon" in your search field , all related postings should come up and people experiences/results whilst on it.

it ony delays reocurence with 13 months on average in 9-15% of the patients.I did have reocurrence 9 months after the original tumor was resected and I am posting this because just two days ago I saw Dr.Hodi at Dana Farber Harvard Institute inBoston/he is Director of the Melanoma Oncology/ and he did not recommended Interferon too.The top melanoma centers stopped prescribing this outdated and very toxic and dangerous treatment 10 years ago.

Whatever you decide you have to be comfortable with your own decision and never turn back.

Good Luck to you,



nicoli - (7/25/2011 - 10:21pm)

Teodora, I would agree with you regarding interferon.

If I were stage 2 right now,I wouldn't do any systemic, toxic,chemical treatment. Some would say that it helps to at least DO SOMETHING but I think that these toxic treatmetns at this stage just wear down your system so that you have to fight harder if there is a recurrence of mel.

I think watch and wait can be prudent at this point. Get checked every 3 months and check yourself every month. Look for returning melanoma near the initial location. Get yourself healthy through diet and excercise and don't read the internet!! This site can be scary enough but at least I know the information is reliable because these are the people who have lived it.

Nicki, Stage 3b

Be strong and take heart, all you who HOPE in the Lord. Ps. 31:24

gossteach - (7/25/2011 - 10:47pm)

This has been a popular topic lately! As you well know, only you can decide for yourself and everyone reacts to it differently, but I can share my experience since you asked to hear from those who have chosen this treatment.  I started interferon in December 2010 after a diagnosis of stage 3A. I can't say that it has been easy, but it has been manageable. The first month was tough with daily infusions, but once I learned how to manage the symptoms it was fine. The injections three times a week were tough in the beginning- my dose had to be reduced twice in the first four months due to bloodwork. The symptoms that bothered me the most were the headaches, body aches, and extreme fatigue--but it wasn't every day. Some days I felt completely normal. Through 8 months of this treatment I have been able to run a full time daycare/preschool out of my home (with help), take care of my four young children, and keep up with most daily activities. I've learned that if I'm tired and the laundry isn't done, it will be there tomorrow and I sleep. If we have cereal for dinner because I just don't have the energy for a Betty Crocker's ok. It's been hard for me to recognize that I can't do everything I used to before the interferon, but I just do as much as I can knowing if there's a chance it will give me more time with my babies, it's worth it.  I will say that I have an excellent support system of family and friends. My husband has been truly amazing. I think that is an important factor in making it the whole year. I have four months to go and I pray it will be my last encounter with this awful disease...we'll see.

Best of luck to you,


Lisa13 - (7/26/2011 - 7:50am)


If I've read correctly, your tumour was 6mm so you are at a higher risk of reoccurence then a tumour that is much thinner. When I was diagnosed with a deep tumour, I chose to participate in an ipilumumab trial versus placebo because at the time it was getting alot of press and Interferon didn't seem worth the trouble for the small numbers of success. Being in a trial, you are monitored very closely and have access to the latest treatments which show promise.  More people seem to be going into the clinical trial route rather than Interferon because of this. That being said, watch and wait is also a good choice as long as you are on top of it.

Ultimately, it's your choice.  Some people on this board have had success with Interferon and others progressed while on it. Your oncologist will be able to provide you with their opinion and hopefully make your choice a bit easier. If you're not going to do any treatment, then I would highly suggest making your immune system as strong as possible with vitamins, supplements, positive attitude and good foods. There is alot to be said for this route.

Best of luck,


Many impossible things have been accomplished for those who refuse to quit

Anonymous - (7/26/2011 - 5:03pm)

I had a deep melanoma, 6mm and decided to do watch and wait, I didn't like the odds with interferon.  I had one recur and it was removed.  I'm now 5 years happily NED.

patobs01 - (7/26/2011 - 5:34pm)

There are not many choices for treatment so it comes down to trying interferon, or wait and see. I did not feel comfortable with "wait and see" as my younger brother died from melanoma when he was just 30 so I knew what I could be in for.. My diagnosis was 3A with micro mets to the left axillary lymphnodes.

 I consulted four drs. (2 melanoma specialists-one at the Mayo Clinic). They were divided in their recommendations - 2 for interferon and 2 against.  I did a lot of my own research, and reviewed many of the previous posts on this site - there is a lot of guidance on how to get through interferon. After considering all of the information and opinions I assessed whether I could handle any of the possible side effects (and there are many). I concluded that there wasn't any one that I couldn't deal with (at the time I was a healthy, fit 50 year old female). so I did the 4 week high dose interferon, and opted not to do the year long treatment. If you decide to go for it, you have to be be ready to get help with the side effects as they occur ,otherwise it is easy to get discouraged by the headaches, chills, lack of appetite, brain fog, etc.  - depression is one of them, and you should talk to the dr. about that ahead of time so you can get on an anti depressant if recommended.

I am happy to say I am NED since the interferon treatment, and hope to stay that way. Take care and best wishes to you on whatever decision you make.


Hope Returning - (7/26/2011 - 6:11pm)

interferon not only is not very effective but also causes dipression. Since many on this board are stage IV and nowadays there are effective treatments for stage 4, you may find more infomration about effective treatments for stage iv. However, Leukine might be effective for stage 2. I would suggestion that instead of waiting to progress to stage 4, maybe it is worth consulting with a top melanoma center, such as MD Anderson or Dr. Hodi in Massachusettes, or other centers specified here

Jeff's Mom - (7/27/2011 - 2:37pm)

My son did the high dose month this April.  The side effects were pretty bad - rigors, high fever...he just felt sick all the time.  He could not tolerate the monthly shots so he stopped.  I think he feels good about his decision to wait and watch.  Interferon is a tough regime, but ultimately it is your decision as to which treatment option is the best for you.   Hope that helps :)

Jeff's mom