Medline: 8704238

Blood 88(3): 831-837, 1996.

Effectiveness of intensified rotational combination chemotherapy for late hematologic relapse of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Rivera GK, Hudson MM, Liu Q, et al.


Relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) usually carries a dire prognosis. We evaluated the effectiveness and long-term complications of intensive rotational combination chemotherapy for late hematologic relapse (median, 16 months after elective cessation of therapy) among 34 children and young adults (ages 4 to 23 years). Concurrent central nervous system (CNS) relapse was present in 3 cases and testicular relapse in 4. Secondary therapy comprised an intensive five-drug reinduction (6 weeks) followed by continuation treatment with four drug pairs, rotated weekly in 4-week cycles over 120 weeks. Intrathecal chemotherapy (methotrexate, hydrocortisone, cytarabine) was given three times during reinduction and every 8 weeks during continuation. Treatment was electively discontinued at week 120 in the absence of detectable disease. Thirty-three patients (97%) attained a second complete remission. At a median follow-up of 9.3 years (range, 4.5 to 11.4), estimates of 5-year second event-free and overall survival (+/- SE) are 65% +/- 8% and 79% +/- 7%, respectively. Eleven patients had a second relapse (9 marrow, 2 testicular) and one developed secondary myeloid leukemia. There have been no CNS relapses or deaths in remission. Treatment was well-tolerated and was given largely on an outpatient basis. Late effects are primarily endocrinologic; one child had a second malignant solid tumor (presumed related to initial radiation therapy) that was treated successfully. Intensive treatment with alternating non-cross-resistant drug pairs for late hematologic relapses of ALL is effective and well-tolerated, and produces results similar to those achieved in patients with newly diagnosed ALL. Event-free survival compares favorably with reports of other relapse regimens, including those incorporating bone marrow transplantation.

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