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IL-2 Therapy at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care
For Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma and Metastatic Melanoma

The development of immunotherapy treatments including Proleukin (high-dose Interleukin-2, or IL-2), has improved the prognosis for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma or advanced melanoma.  In studies, this FDA-approved therapy has demonstrated the possibility of complete and long-lasting response in patients.

IL-2 is a natural protein called a cytokine that stimulates T-cells. When given in high doses, it also stimulates the immune system to better recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care is among a select number of cancer treatment centers in the New York-metropolitan area and the only center in the Bronx and Westchester County experienced in giving IL-2 therapy to adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and metastatic melanoma.  We have a dedicated inpatient unit for IL-2 therapy at Montefiore’s Einstein Campus.

The experience can be challenging for patients, who are hospitalized during the treatment. IL-2 is given by intravenous infusion and ideally administered under the supervision of qualified physicians experienced in the use of anticancer agents.  The physicians are supported by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists and other practitioners, who are skilled in administering this therapy as well as preventing and managing side effects, which can include low blood pressure, changes in heart rhythm, fever/chills, nausea, swelling of the extremities, skin rash and changes in blood counts. Our team members’ combined expertise and skill help patients through this intense therapy, preventing side effects whenever possible and responding to them as they occur.

Determining Results
When IL-2 therapy is successful, a patient’s response is quickly visible. Our team can determine whether tumors have shrunk within two months after the patient has received the first course of IL-2 and in some cases results have been seen in as early as one month after treatment. Patients whose tumors shrink receive an average of two treatment courses depending upon the success of the first course and the patients’ overall state of health.

Approving Patients for IL-2
Our team carefully assesses patients referred for IL-2 therapy to determine whether they are good candidates. Patient must be in overall good health, with normal cardiac and pulmonary function.

Our multidisciplinary IL-2 team is co-directed by:
Katia Papalezova, MD, Director of the Melanoma/Soft Tissue Tumors Program and Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
Benjamin Gartrell, MD, Director of Genitourinary Oncology and Assistant Professor, Departments of Oncology and Urology

Please call Dr. Katia Papalezova at 718-862-8840 or Dr. Benjamin Gartrell at 718-405-8404 to arrange for a patient consult and if you have questions about the IL-2 treatment process.