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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2008 Jun;102(6):602-7. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2008.02.009. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

Rescue chemotherapy for patients with resistant or relapsed endemic Burkitt's lymphoma.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa.


Patients with endemic Burkitt's lymphoma who failed primary treatment with the Malawi 2002 or 2003 Burkitt's lymphoma treatment protocols, consisting of high frequency cyclophosphamide 40 mg/kg and intrathecal methotrexate, were offered rescue chemotherapy. Twenty-eight patients (14 boys and 14 girls; age range 3-13 years) with resistant disease (n=8) or relapse (n=20) presented to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi. Treatment consisted of cyclophosphamide 60 mg/kg and vincristine 1.5 mg/m(2) i.v. on Days 1, 8 and 15, plus intrathecal methotrexate on the same days in those patients treated for a relapse. The majority of patients (81%) had St Jude stage III or IV disease. Twenty patients (71%) achieved a complete clinical remission. Day 8 treatment was delayed in eight children and Day 15 treatment in five patients, both for a median of 7 days, mainly due to neutropenia. Ten patients relapsed after 42-311 days (median 105 days). Ten patients (36%) remained in remission for 353-712 days (median 487 days). Patients whose first relapse occurred after 6 months as well as those with limited disease had the best outcome. This simple 15-day chemotherapy schedule salvaged 36% of patients and significantly increased the overall cure rate of our Burkitt's lymphoma patients.

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