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Blood. 2002 May 1;99(9):3151-7.

Unrelated marrow transplantation for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in second remission.

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  • 1National Marrow Donor Program, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) may be curative for more patients than chemotherapy for the child with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This study reviewed the outcomes of 363 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in second remission who received unrelated donor BMT from 1988 to 2000 in order to define prognostic factors that affect leukemia-free survival (LFS). Median patient age was 9 years (range, 0-19 years), and median follow-up 29 was months (range, 0-125 months). The median duration of first remission was 24 months (range, 0-109 months). Prognostic factors, including age, duration of first remission, HLA matching, and graft-versus-host (GVH) disease, were analyzed using both univariate and multivariate analyses. Overall survival was 38%, and LFS was 36% at 5 years. LFS was significantly worse for patients 15 years or older (log-rank, P =.009). HLA matching was associated with improved LFS. Acute GVH disease developed in 71%, with 29% having grades III-IV. The incidence of chronic GVH disease was 39% for patients who survived more than 80 days and was significantly higher for female patients receiving marrow from female donors (P =.0009). Transplantation-related mortality was 42% and was associated with HLA mismatches, age 15 years and older, and first remission less than 12 months. The 5-year estimate for relapse was 22%, with first remission at least 6 months associated with a lower risk. Results of unrelated donor BMT appear similar to multi-institutional studies of matched related donor BMT, and this approach appears to be curative for many patients. However, innovative approaches are needed for patients with initial remissions of less than 6 months and for older teenagers.

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