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Therapeutic efficacy of interferon alfa-2b in infants with life-threatening giant hemangiomas.

BACKGROUND: Because of their size and the possibility of complications, giant hemangiomas represent a therapeutic challenge. Various forms of treatment have been used, with variable results, including surgery, embolization, lasers, pentoxifylline, and corticosteroids. Interferon alfa has been used successfully to treat life-threatening hemangiomas, possibly by means of its antiangiogenic activity.

OBSERVATIONS: We treated 7 infants with organ-interfering and/or life-threatening giant hemangiomas with subcutaneous injections of 3 million U/m2 per day of interferon alfa-2b during the first month and subsequently every 48 to 72 hours, depending on the evolution in each case. The treatment lasted from 3 to 12 months. In 2 patients, interferon alfa-2b was administered while prednisone therapy was being tapered. In all 7 patients, there was considerable reduction of the volume of the hemangiomas and remission of their complications. All patients presented with fever, neutropenia, and an increase in serum aminotransferase levels. The patients who received interferon alfa-2b and prednisone seemed to improve at a faster rate.

CONCLUSIONS: Interferon alfa-2b is a good option for the treatment of patients with steroid-resistant, organ-interfering and/or life-threatening giant hemangiomas. In our experience, the adverse effects were transient and minor and did not require the interruption of the treatment.

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