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Leukemia. 2001 Jul;15(7):1038-45.

A comparison of early intensive methotrexate/mercaptopurine with early intensive alternating combination chemotherapy for high-risk B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a Pediatric Oncology Group phase III randomized trial.

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Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


A prospective, randomized multicenter study was performed to evaluate the relative efficacy of two different concepts for early intensive therapy in a randomized trial of children with B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at high risk (HR) for relapse. Four hundred and ninety eligible children with HR-ALL were randomized on the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) 9006 phase III trial between 7 January 1991 and 12 January 1994. After prednisone (PDN), vincristine (VCR), asparaginase (ASP) and daunorubicin (DNR) induction, 470 patients received either 12 intensive parenteral treatments of intermediate dose (1 g/m2 each) methotrexate (MTX) and mercaptopurine (MP) over 24 weeks (regimen A) or 12 intensive course of alternating myelosuppressive drug combinations given over 30 weeks (regimen B). These drug combinations included MTX/MP, teniposide (VM-26)/cytosine arabinoside (AC) and VCR/PDN/DNR/AC/ASP. Central nervous system (CNS) prophylaxis was age-adjusted triple intrathecal chemotherapy. Patients with CNS disease at diagnosis were treated with craniospinal irradiation after the intensive phase. Continuation was standard doses of MTX and MP for 2 years. This trial was closed early because of an apparent early difference favoring regimen B. Results show that 470 patients achieved remission (97%). Two hundred and thirty two were randomized to regimen A and 238 to regimen B. The estimated 4-year event-free survival (EFS) for patients treated with regimen A is 61.6 % (s.e. = 3.3%) and with regimen B is 69.4% (s.e. = 3.1%), P = 0.091. Toxicities were more frequent on regimen B. In conclusion, for children with B-precursor ALL at high risk to relapse, early intensification with myelosuppressive combination chemotherapy was more toxic but produced no significant difference in EFS when compared to those treated with parenteral methotrexate and mercaptopurine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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