A prospective trial with concurrent controls was designed to assess the effects of specific active immunotherapy in patients receiving intermittent cytotoxic chemotherapy (DTIC + Vincristine) as an adjuvant to surgery in Stage IIB malignant melanoma. The treated group received monthly irradiated allogeneic melanoma cells and BCG, and the controls BCG only. Sixteen patients in the treatment arm had a median relapse-free interval of 5 months, compared to 8 months in 12 controls given chemotherapy and BCG, and because of this we felt that continuation of the study was unjustified on ethical grounds. Although all the controls who relapsed did so at distant sites, 7/11 patients given specific active immunotherapy relapsed initially within the lymphatic drainage area of the primary tumour. The median intervals from starting treatment to relapse at distant sites, and the median survival were identical in the 2 groups. We conclude that immunotherapy comprising irradiated allogenic melanoma cells as employed in this study does not prolong survival in surgically treated Stage IIB malignant melanoma and may even promote early, local relapse
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