High-dose interleukin 2 (IL-2) immunotherapy

Interleukin-2 is a protein normally present in small amounts in the body. It does not directly attack cancer cells.  It has powerful effects on the body’s immune system and enhances the ability of some white blood cells, called T-lymphocytes, to target and kill cancer cells.

Providence's high-dose IL-2 immunotherapy program is the largest in Oregon and among the top five nationwide, offering high-dose interleukin-2 immunotherapy to patients with metastatic kidney cancer and metastatic melanoma. Eligibility for treatment with high-dose IL-2 is determined by medical history, physical examination, blood tests, X-rays or scans and an evaluation of heart, lung, kidney and liver function.

Patients treated with high-dose IL-2 are hospitalized for five to seven days at Providence Portland Medical Center in the oncology unit, where a highly-trained team of physicians and nurses provide care during this rigorous treatment regimen. After a two-week break from treatment, a second five to seven day admission occurs. Additional treatment with high-dose IL-2 depends on the response of the patient’s tumor to the treatment.

Approximately one month after the second cycle of IL-2, CT scans or other scans are done to evaluate response to the treatment.  If there is evidence the cancer has decreased in size, an additional two cycles of IL-2 will be given. The procedures are same as for the first two cycles.

If the cancer continues to shrink, it is possible to receive up to six cycles of high-dose IL-2.

Forms Instructions

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Recommended Resource

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society’s home page with links to all types of cancer, symptoms, treatment options, statistics trials and ways to contribute. 

National Cancer Institute: Biological Therapies for Cancer - Questions and Answers

Biological therapies use the body's immune system to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.