(HealthDay News) – For patients with advanced cancer, a combination of low-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) and 13-cis retinoic acid (RA) increases natural killer (NK) cells, decreases expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and improves overall survival (OS).

Francesco Recchia, MD, from the Civilian Hospital in Avezzano, Italy, and colleagues evaluated the IL-2/RA regimen in 500 patients with advanced cancer. Participants who had clinical benefit from chemotherapy were treated with IL-2 and RA during the course of one year, and therapy was continued intermittently for five years or until progression.

During a median follow-up of 60 months, the researchers identified a significant increase in NK cells and decrease of VEGF from baseline, post-chemotherapy values. The 15-year disease-free survival and OS rates were 32.6 and 36.8%, respectively. There was a significant improvement seen in the five-year OS rates, with respect to National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results data, for breast cancer (42.7 vs. 23.3%); lung cancer (26.4 vs. 3.6%); colorectal cancer (43.6 vs. 11.7%); and renal cancer (23 vs.11 %). No cases of grade 3 or 4 World Health Organization toxicity were seen; grade 2 cutaneous toxicity and triglyceride elevation were seen in some patients, and one patient had to cease treatment due to grade 2 urticaria.

“All types of cancer treated had a benefit from this immunotherapy regimen: ovarian cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, cardiac metastases of sarcoma, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, renal cell carcinoma, melanoma, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and recurrent ovarian cancer,” Recchia said in a statement.

Abstract No. 5366
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