Melanoma Drug Approved for Stage III Patients

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug, peginterferon alfa-2b (also known as Sylatron), to treat stage III melanoma patients — those found to have metastatic disease that has reached the lymph nodes. The drug, injected subcutaneously, is the first adjuvant, or additional, therapy for stage III patients approved since high-dose interferon alfa-2b (IFN alfa-2b) in 1995. This approval follows on the heels of a recent trial in which melanoma patients taking Sylatron remained relapse-free for an average of nine months longer than patients not taking the drug. There was no difference in overall survival. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills an estimated 8,700 people in the US annually.