The Role of High Dose Interleukin-2 in the Era of Targeted Therapy

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We assessed survival outcomes following high dose interleukin-2 in a contemporary cohort of patients during the era of targeted agents.

Materials and Methods:

We retrospectively reviewed the records of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with high dose interleukin-2 between July 2007 and September 2014. Clinicopathological data were abstracted and patient response to therapy was based on RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors), version 1.1 criteria. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate progression-free and overall survival in the entire cohort, the response to high dose interleukin-2 in regard to previous targeted agent therapy and the response to the targeted agent in relation to the response to high dose interleukin-2.


We identified 92 patients, of whom 87 had documentation of a response to high dose interleukin-2. Median overall survival was 34.4 months from the initiation of high dose interleukin-2 therapy in the entire cohort. Patients who received targeted therapy before high dose interleukin-2 had overall survival (median 34.4 and 30.0 months, p = 0.88) and progression-free survival (median 1.5 and 1.7 months, p = 0.8) similar to those in patients who received no prior therapy, respectively. Additionally, patients with a complete or partial response to high dose interleukin-2 had similar outcomes for subsequent targeted agents compared to patients whose best response was stable or progressive disease (median overall survival 30.1 vs 25.4 months, p = 0.4).


Our data demonstrate that patient responses to high dose interleukin-2 and to targeted agents before and after receiving high dose interleukin-2 are independent. As such, carefully selected patients should be offered high dose interleukin-2 for the possibility of a complete and durable response without the fear of limiting the treatment benefit of targeted agents.

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