Interferon-Stage II. Yes or no ?

Posted By
11/11/2010 5:56am
Replies: 9


I'am 31 years old, living in France. Last september I was diagnosed a melanoma on my back, 4,01 mm, not ulcerated, 2 mitosis. So from one day to another, I started learning a lexicography I have never heard before.

My PET Scan was clear, as well as the ecography. Then I had a surgery for the Sentinal node biopsy. And it came negative, so it's clear as well.

The dermatologist told me last week that I am in Stage II B (just for 0,1 mm I guess, otherwise it would be stage II A). And she suggest me to take Interferon three times a week for 18 months. Another dermatologist I called, told me that the use of interferon is controversial, and that I should think it well because of the side-effects.

I know that is a personal decision and that is quite difficult to generalize the side effects. As an amateur in melanoma, I will appreciate if you guys, can help me to make myself clear. Thanks,



akls - (11/11/2010 - 6:37am)


Sorry about the diagnosis.  Know that you are not alone.  I did a year of interferon March 09/10.  I was stage IIIa, but I know that some oncs. recommend for stage IIb and IIc.  I guess I just told myself I would try it and if I couldn't handle it I would quit.  I made it the entire year and worked for all of it except the first month of high dose IV's.  It is a difficult drug, but I made it and took care of my family too.  I had a lot of help in that department.  I just didn't want to look back and say what if someday if it does come back.  Just my experience.  I liked the feeling that I was in charge and doing something even if the odds of it helping were not the best.  The odds of a lot  of cancer treatments are similar. Good luck with your decision and if you decide to do it feel free to contact me via email.  I could give you lots of tips.


Amy S. in Michigan

Stage IIIA 6  years NED Completed 1 year interferon 2009.  God is Good.


I'm sorry to hear about your news. I was also diagnosed with melanoma in Sept. 2010.

3.7 mm, clark level 5, satelite mitosis

  I went to several doctors and recieved the same advice you did regarding interferon. In the end its a personal decision.I decided to start interferon for the same reasons Amy had listed.  I would rather do something than nothing at all.  I'm starting my 4th day of HD interferon today.  I'm also working work while taking the interferon.  My melanoma was on the back of my head which my doctors have say they treat a little differently.   I'm also going to start radiation treatment in about 3 weeks aswell.  I'm new to this board too. You will recieve lots of great information from the great people who post to this board. I hope everything goes well for you.



Hello Gabriel,

Congratulations!!! You have to be ecstatic about that news! Tough call you have to make now though. Did the initial biopsy indicate any other observations? For instance, mine noted that the lesion showed no evidence of lymphovascular invasion. Also with no mitosis found, I am very hopeful that I could possibly get the same good news that you got with your SNB. (Pray for me...I undergo SNB and WLE on 11/19/10).

I kind of liked Scot's thinking that you could start on it and see how you tolerate it. I will have to do some research before I could be faced with this same decision myself though, because I have to admit I have no knowledge of the potential risks, rewards, and side effects of this treatment. Perhaps you could let me know what you find as you complete your research.

Thanks, and best of luck to you.


Hi Gabriel, I'm so sorry you had to join our "club" of melasuckanoma, but you've found one of the best places online for information and support. 

I'm also stage 2B, and I tried the interferon.  Unfortunately for me, I couldn't tolerate it---I made the high-dose 1st month (IV 5 days a week), and only 1 month of the 3 shots a week, before the side-effects got me (mainly depression).  IF you decide to do it.. I would strongly suggest getting on an antidepressant before you start---maybe I could have done the entire year if I had.

Research has shown that doing just the 1-month high-dose via IV is just as effective as doing the entire year, so that made me feel better! =)

Anyway... my statistics stunk (only a 60% of surviving 5 years), and I'm here to say on Dec. 8th, I will celebrate my 10-year NED-iversary!! (NED = No Evidence of Disease)

Was it the bit of interferon that has kept me NED so far?  Who knows, but I'm still here, and doing great.   And as someone mentioned, you can always quit if you can't handle it!! (1 in 4---25%---can NOT tolerate it!) 

I wish you the best--please keep us updated.  Feel free to email anytime if you want to chat, scream, vent, whatever to another Stage 2B patient who understands.  Take care!

~Lisa~  (

Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in an attractive & well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body totally used up & worn out, & screaming WOOHOOO, WHAT A RIDE!!

Hi Gabriel,

I just wanted to point out one thing.  The people who replied here are most likely in the US.  The US does a protocol that is different than much of Europe.  In Europe, they tend to do Interferon at a lower dose for a longer period of time.  In the US, they do a high dose protocol for one month, and then they do a lower dose protocol for 11 months.  I do think the European protocol is generally better tolerated.  Interferon in the US is controversial, as well.  Some institutions no longer recommend it.  Others do. You might continue to do research to see if you can find study results for stage II.  I seem to remember seeing some regarding Interferon and Stage II specifically.

Best wishes,


Anonymous - (11/12/2010 - 10:31am)

Thanks Amy, Scot, Mark, Lisa and Janner for your quick posts.

One thing is sure : I do not think I have at this moment the necessary information to take a decision. Although is the patient who has the last word, I think it is necessary to be confident in what the doctors say. I just met one who is in a multidisciplinary team at the hospital. His argument was: your SNB is clear, all scans are clear as well, but your tumor was quite thick (4,1 mm) and although it was not ulcerated, it had 2 of mitosis. So, there is a higer risk of recurrence.

I started my research with other doctors to have a second opinion.  I am not frightened to take Interferon, but before I do it, I want to have more arguments. On the other hand, in four months I moving to my country, Argentina. So there are many variables I need to discuss with the doctors in case I start the treatment.

I will keep you inform !

All the best,



My hubby was diagnosed at the end of August, stage 2c.  He was scheduled to start interferon, but due to an infection from the SNB, that is on hold for a couple weeks.  I think interferon is definitely a personal decision.  Will it help or not, EHH?  I don't know.  Basically my husband's onc. said there is a 50/50 chance of the melanoma coming back.  If you do the interferon, most likely it won't stop it from recurring, but could prolong the time it takes to come back.  And considering everyone seems to react to it differently, it makes it a hard decision.  Due to how deep his was, he has decided to do interferon I think mostly to feel like he is doing something.  I figure, it's not like he's locked into it.  If he does react badly to it, and it really affects his life in a negative way, he can always stop.  Sorry that you have to be in this situation and make a decision like this, but good luck in whatever you choose.


Dear all,

Well, the news is that I am going to take Interferon for the next 18 months. It's a low dosis (3ML), from the European protocol. Three differents specialists in Melanoma agreed that is a good decision. I don't consider I have the means to know what is better and what is not for me. I then must be confident in what the doctors say.

It is a fact: alpha interferon works. It has been published in the latest scientific article related to this issue:

I read the entire article and is clear that the results shows that it woks not only to disease free survival (DFS) but also to overall survival (OS).

So, the question would be : Why I should not take Interferon ? Because of its side-effects than can change my way of life. But the main objective is living, and the side-effects are, from my point of view, a price we can afford . Anyway, I had already changed my way of life when I knew I had a melanoma. It's not terrible, but I have to get used to the idea that my life is risky. 

Thanks everybody for the advices ! Hope everything will be ok for us.


P.D. Mark, once again, good luck on 11-19 !







Hi all,

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