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The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) has released an evidence-based consensus statement on the use of tumor immunotherapy to treat patients with melanoma. The information is available online ahead of print in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology (doi:10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.153).


"Current data suggests that cancer immunotherapy is being underutilized and many patients who might benefit from immunotherapy are not given the opportunity in the optimal setting," the paper's coauthor, Michael Atkins, MD, Deputy Director of Oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said in a news release. "The goal of these guidelines is to change that and to provide a readily available and comprehensive resource about how and when to consider immunotherapy for patients with melanoma."


The consensus statement focuses on issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical end points, and sequencing or combination of therapy. The statement includes recommendations for the use of interferon-[alpha]2, pegylated interferon, interleukin (IL-2), and ipilimumab.


The consensus statement was created from work done by the SITC Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines Task Force, established in 2010, which includes 32 experts in the field of melanoma. The recommendations are based on a systematic literature review of high-impact studies (in English) performed between 1992 and 2012, supplemented as was appropriate by the panel.

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The task force used the 2011 Institute of Medicine's "Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines" to ensure fairness and transparency in writing the consensus statement. And, the plan is for the SITC Melanoma CIG Task Force to evaluate and update the guidelines every two to three years, or as the task force determines is appropriate. The Task Force is chaired by Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS, Director of the Rush University Cancer Center and Associate Dean of the Rush Medical College.