Medline: 9704739

The abstract Journal of Clinical Oncology 16(8): 2854-2863, 1998. is available online.

The fulltext Journal of Clinical Oncology 16(8): 2854-2863, 1998. may be available online for subscribers.

Prognostic significance of sex in childhood B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a Pediatric Oncology Group study.

Shuster JJ, Wacker P, Pullen J, et al.


In childhood B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), possible interactions among sex, time, and widely used prognostic factors (age, WBC count, and DNA index) were investigated for the first 5 years after diagnosis.

Patients and Methods:
All eligible patients aged 1 to less than 22 years, registered between February 1986 and September 1994 in two B-precursor ALL studies from the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG), were included in the analysis. Cutpoints for age (3.0, 5.0, and 10.0 years), WBC count (10, 50, and 100 x 10(9)/L), and DNA index (DI; 1.16) were defined. Four time periods after diagnosis (years 1, 2, 3, and 4 and 5 combined) were selected for the study of prognostic significance over time. The cut-off date for analysis was April 1996.

A total of 3,717 children (2,010 boys and 1,707 girls) were included in the outcome analysis. No major differences between the sexes were observed in age, duration of symptoms before registration, WBC count, hemoglobin level, platelet count, ploidy, presence of CNS disease at diagnosis, or induction failure rate. Event-free survival (EFS) differences between sexes became significantly different from 2 years following diagnosis. At 5 years, in all subsets analyzed, boys fared worse than girls, although not all differences were statistically significant. Major sex differences in EFS were observed in older children (10 to 22 years), in patients with intermediate WBC counts (10 to 50 x 10(9)/ L), and in children who fit both of these subgroups, in whom the 2-year EFS was almost 20% higher in girls than in boys, reaching a 38% difference at 5 years.

This study shows an outcome interaction among sex, time, and commonly used prognostic variables. The important sex difference observed at 2 and 5 years suggests that more intensive consolidation and/or maintenance therapy in some boys with B-precursor ALL should be investigated.

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