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J Clin Oncol. 2000 Apr;18(7):1508-16.

Six months of maintenance chemotherapy after intensified treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia of childhood.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Kanagawa Children's Medical Center, and Department of Pediatrics, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan.



We postulated that intensification of chemotherapy immediately after remission induction might reduce the leukemic cell burden sufficiently to allow an abbreviated period of antimetabolite therapy.


Three hundred forty-seven children (ages 1 to 15 years) with previously untreated acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were enrolled onto the Tokyo L92-13 study, which excluded patients with mature B-cell ALL and patients less than 1 year old. One hundred twenty-four patients were classified as standard risk, 122 as high risk, and 101 as extremely high risk, according to age, peripheral-blood leukocyte count, selected genetic abnormalities, and immunophenotype. All subjects received four drugs for remission induction, followed by a risk-directed multidrug intensification phase and therapy for presymptomatic leukemia in the CNS. Maintenance chemotherapy with oral mercaptopurine and methotrexate was administered for 6 months, with all treatment stopped by 1 year after diagnosis.


The mean (+/- SD) event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival rates for all patients were 59.5% +/- 3.4% and 81.5% +/- 2.2%, respectively, at 5. 5 years after diagnosis. EFS rates by risk category were similar (60. 2% +/- 6.0% for standard risk, 57.7% +/- 5.6% for high risk, and 62. 5% +/- 5.7% for extremely high risk), whereas overall survival rates differed significantly (91.2% +/- 2.7%, 80.0% +/- 4.1%, and 72.1% +/- 4.5%, respectively, P <.0001 by the log-rank test). There were 107 relapses. Eighty-five (79.4%) of these 107 patients achieved second complete remissions, with subsequent EFS rates of 61.5% +/- 7. 9% (standard risk), 42.6% +/- 8.1% (high risk), and 9.6% +/- 6.4% (extremely high risk). Of the five risk factors analyzed, only the response to prednisolone monotherapy among extremely high-risk patients proved important.


Early treatment intensification did not compensate for a truncated phase of maintenance chemotherapy in children with standard- or high-risk ALL. However, 6 months of antimetabolite treatment seemed adequate for extremely high-risk patients who were good responders to prednisolone and received intensified chemotherapy that included high-dose cytarabine early in the clinical course.

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