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Treatment of metastatic kidney cancer remains unsatisfactory. However, the most frequently used treatment for many years has been high doses of interleukin-2. It is important for patients with metastatic kidney cancer to understand the potential benefits and potential toxicities of this form of therapy. It is also important for comparison with newer forms of treatment.

Physicians at the National Cancer Institute evaluated high-dose interleukin-2 treatment in 255 patients with metastatic kidney cancer. Five per cent of patients achieved a complete response and the majority remain in remission. Nine per cent of patients achieved a partial response lasting an average of 19 months. Four percent of patients died as a consequence of the treatment and other patients experienced severe side effects.

High-dose interleukin-2 clearly benefits some patients with kidney cancer and should be considered for initial therapy. Combination approaches utilize less toxic regimens and other anti-cancer agents are currently being evaluated as alternatives to high-dose interleukin-2. (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 13, No 3, pp 688-696, 1995)

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