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Br J Cancer. 2009 Apr 7;100(7):1026-31. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604895. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Incidence and predictors of treatment-related mortality in paediatric acute leukaemia in El Salvador.

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Division of Haematology/Oncology and Program in Child Health Evaluative Sciences, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Survival rates among children with leukaemia in low-income countries are lower than those in high-income countries. This has been attributed in part to higher treatment-related mortality (TRM). We examined the demographics, treatment, and outcomes of paediatric patients in El Salvador with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) to determine the incidence, causes, and risk factors for TRM. Two trained data managers collected data prospectively; no patients were excluded. Biological, socioeconomic and nutritional predictors were examined. A total of 469 patients with ALL and 78 patients with AML were included. The 2-year cumulative incidence of TRM was significantly higher among children with AML (35.4+/-6.4%) than those with ALL (12.5+/-1.7%; P<0.0001). However, the proportion of deaths attributable to the toxicity of treatment did not differ significantly between AML (25/47, 53.2%) and ALL (55/107, 51.4%; P=0.98). Among children with ALL, low monthly income (P=0.04) and low parental education (P=0.02) significantly increased the risk of TRM. Among children with AML, biological, socioeconomic, and nutritional variables were not associated with TRM. In this low-income country, toxic death significantly contributes to mortality in both ALL and AML. A better understanding of the effect of socioeconomic status on TRM may suggest specific strategies for patients with ALL.

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