Medline: 2930722

British Journal of Haematology 71: 371-376, 1989.

Burkitt cell acute leukaemia (L3 ALL) in adults: a report of 18 cases.

Fenaux P, Lai JL, Miaux O, et al.


Between 1981 and 1987, L3 ALL was diagnosed in 18 adult patients, with a median age of 26 (range 16-66) and M/F ratio of 3.5. At diagnosis, 11 patients had splenomegaly, 11 had enlarged lymph nodes, and 15 patients had central nervous system (CNS) disease, of whom 10 had mental neuropathy. Anaemia was found in 13 patients, thrombocytopenia in 17 and the median white cell count was 25.5 x 10(9)/I (range 8.6-89). Surface immunoglobulins were found on the blasts of every patient. Seventeen patients had a t(8;14) (q24;q32) translocation. One had an apparently normal karyotype, but only six mitoses could be examined. During the period of the study different treatment protocols, which comprised increasingly intensive systemic and CNS chemotherapy, were used. Six patients died less than 3 weeks after admission, two of them of acute tumour lysis syndrome and two of CNS haemorrhage. In two other patients, rapid progression of CNS leukaemia was seen in spite of the treatment. Ten patients (56%) achieved complete remission (CR). Two were allografted and two were autografted early in CR. Four patients relapsed, three of the four relapses involving the CNS. A median actuarial disease-free survival was not attained, and a plateau was achieved at 57% after 7 months, with no later relapse. Median actuarial survival of the 18 patients was only 6 months, but a plateau was obtained at 31% after 11 months. Prognosis seemed related to the intensity of chemotherapy: recent patients, treated more aggressively, achieved CR more often than earlier patients, treated with less intensive protocols, although the number of patients was too small to draw any firm conclusion. The initial white cell count was also a prognostic factor, as none of the patients with more than 30 x 10(9)/I leucocytes achieved CR. Our results suggest that the outcome of adult L3 ALL can be improved, as in children, by increased intensity of treatment, particularly with regard to CNS leukaemia therapy. Early deaths are still frequent, however, but their incidence can probably be reduced by better prevention and early management of the acute tumour lysis syndrome.

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