PURPOSE - The Cytokine Working Group conducted a randomized phase III trial to determine the value of outpatient interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon alfa-2b (IFN) relative to high-dose (HD) IL-2 in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
PATIENTS AND METHODS - Patients were stratified for bone and liver metastases, primary tumor in place, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0 or 1 and then randomly assigned to receive either IL-2 (5 MIU/m(2) subcutaneously every 8 hours for three doses on day 1, then daily 5 days/wk for 4 weeks) and IFN (5 MIU/m(2) subcutaneously three times per week for 4 weeks) every 6 weeks or HD IL-2 (600,000 U/kg/dose intravenously every 8 hours on days 1 through 5 and 15 to 19 [maximum 28 doses]) every 12 weeks.
RESULTS - One hundred ninety-two patients were enrolled between April 1997 and July 2000. Toxicities were as anticipated for these regimens. The response rate was 23.2% (22 of 95 patients) for HD IL-2 versus 9.9% (nine of 91 patients) for IL-2/IFN (P = .018). Ten patients receiving HD IL-2 were progression-free at 3 years versus three patients receiving IL-2 and IFN (P = .082). The median response durations were 24 and 15 [corrected] months (P = .18) [corrected] and median survivals were 17.5 and 13 months (P = .24). For patients with bone or liver metastases (P = .001) or a primary tumor in place (P = .040), survival was superior with HD IL-2.
CONCLUSION - This randomized phase III trial provides additional evidence that HD IL-2 should remain the preferred therapy for selected patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.