Background: Hemangioma is the most common tumor in infancy. 'Alarming hemangiomas' refer to the lesions that potentially impair vital structures or cause life-endangering complications, and which warrant vigorous treatment. Interferon-α has been used for alarming hemangiomas at Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, since 1994. Methods: The records of 21 consecutive infants treated between January 1994 and December 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. The initial dose of interferon-α was 50 000 IU/kg per day, which was increased to 100 000 IU/kg per day in the second week of therapy if tolerated. It was tapered depending on response, with total treatment lasting no longer than 12 months. Treatment response was evaluated depending on the size of the lesion and resolution of complications. Results: The duration of therapy ranged from 6 to 12 months. Six patients (29%) had a reduction in mass of ≥25% after 1 month of therapy. Twenty patients (95%) had achieved a decrease in size of 50% by 12 months, and 15 (71%) had total involution of lesions by a median age of 13.5 months (range 7-50 months). Only mild and transient adverse effects were encountered. No neurologic complications occurred. Conclusions: Interferon-α appears to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for alarming hemangiomas in infancy.
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