Higher levels of a protein called S-100 in patients with melanoma may correlate with a higher risk of having the disease return, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).
The study evaluated and tested serum samples from 103 patients who were treated with high-dose interferon, an average of eight years prior. The disease recurred in 64 of the patients within an average of 30 months. When the researchers examined levels of S-100 in the serum samples, they found that the higher levels of the protein correlated with recurrence.
“Melanoma patients who initially respond well to treatment with interferon are at high risk of their cancer recurring,” said John Kirkwood, M.D., principal investigator of the study, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of the Melanoma Center at UPCI. “We know that only 30% of these patients benefit from treatment long-term. The goal of our study was to identify better predictors of who will benefit most from treatment with interferon and who is most at risk of their cancer returning.”
The study also found that patients who survived longer showed increased evidence of an autoimmune response to treatment with interferon.