Interleukin-2 is a standard therapy for patients with metastatic renal cell cancer. However, patients with advanced metastatic renal cell cancer often cannot or do not want to tolerate the side effects associated with high-dose interleukin-2 treatment.
To reduce toxicity and still maintain effectiveness, physicians in Germany developed a method to deliver interleukin-2 locally for the treatment of lung metastasis from renal cell cancer. One hundred sixteen patients with lung metastases from renal cell cancer were treated with inhalation of interleukin-2 with co-administration of intravenous interleukin-2 in low, less toxic doses with or without alfa interferon. The average treatment time was 7 months.
Side effects were limited to cough, and patients who were unable to tolerate high doses of interleukin-2 were able to tolerate inhaled interleukin-2. Fifteen percent of patients with progressive lung metastasis experienced a response for an average of 16 months and 55% of patients had stabilization of the cancer. The overall response rate was 16% with disease stabilization in 49%. The overall average duration of response was 9.6 months. The average survival was 12 months.
These physicians concluded that inhalation of interleukin-2 is a non-toxic and effective palliative treatment for patients with progressive lung metastases. Inhaled interleukin-2 prevented progress of lung metastasis in 70% of patients. Furthermore, patients could be treated as outpatients and remain employed. (Cancer Journal of the Scientific American, Vol 3, Suppl 1, pp S98-105, 1997)