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Lancet. 1991 Jan 12;337(8733):61-6.

Improved outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia with reinforced early treatment and rotational combination chemotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Hematology-Oncology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101-0318.


To improve outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a stratified, randomised study of extended intensified chemotherapy was done. 358 evaluable patients received remission reinforcement therapy (teniposide, cytarabine, high-dose methotrexate) added to a four-drug induction regimen. Those achieving complete remission were randomised on the basis of risk group assignment to conventional continuation treatment or to four pairs of drugs rotated weekly or every 6 weeks. All patients received intrathecal chemotherapy; higher-risk patients also received 1800 cGy cranial irradiation after 1 year of remission. Complete remission was induced in 96% of the patients. At median follow-up of 40 (range 19-73) months, 4-year event-free survival (SE) was 73 (4)% overall, 81 (6)% in the lower-risk group (n = 110), and 69 (5)% in the higher-risk group (n = 248). Outcome within risk groups was not significantly affected by the speed of rotation of drug pairs during continuation treatment. Various high-risk subgroups had apparently improved responses to this treatment. This intensified chemotherapy may cure 69-77% of children with ALL.

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