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Interferon alpha is classed as an immunotherapy drug.

Interferon is a protein that occurs naturally in the body in very small amounts. There are three main types: alpha, beta and gamma. This information relates to the drug called interferon alpha which is used to treat kidney cancer .

Intereferon Alpha is the generic name , it is manufactured by Roche under the trade/marketing name Roferon

The treatment is approx 20 years old and until recently was the only readily available treatment for Kidney Cancer that has spread beyond the capsule .

It has now been superceded by the latest generation of targetted therapies such as Sutent which is currently awaiting final approval from N I C E ( these comments posted 18th Feb 2009)

Interferon is given to stimulate the body’s own immune system to fight some types of cancer. The exact way in which it works is not fully understood. It is thought to have a wide range of effects on the body. It may do one or more of the following:

  • slow down or stop cancer cells dividing
  • reduce the ability of cancer cells to protect themselves from the immune system
  • strengthen the body’s immune system.


Interferon Alpha is administered as an injection subcutaneously (under the skin). Your specialist or nurse will explain about the dosage regime - this is usually an escalating dosage regime designed to introduce the drug gradually into your body - they will explain how often and where it should be administered (e.g.this could be the abdomen or thigh)


To see the full prescribing information on Roferon please click here Interferon Alpha – prescribing information.

Side Effects

These have been collated from information gathered from other forums and sites and are based on people's experience

  • Flu Like Symptoms
  • General Tiredness
  • Possible Mood Swings
  • Lack of Sleep (although this could be more to do with anxiety)
  • Feeling Sick, possible vomiting
  • Loss of appetite


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