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Liver damage in children with acute leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on oral maintenance chemotherapy.


Eight of 36 children receiving maintenance chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had liver biopsies on the basis of clinical abnormalities and/or elevated serum enzyme levels. Six biopsies were abnormal, including one in a boy with spider naevi who showed micronudular cirrhosis; he appeared to retain methotrexate in the blood for a prolonged period and his SGOT level did not return to normal for 19 months after maintenance chemotherapy was discontinued. The five other abnormal biopsies showed minor changes in the portal tracts. The six children with abnormal liver histology showed a wide variation in their early handling of an oral methotrexate dose. There was a statistically significant rise in mean SGOT and alkaline phosphatase during treatment, but the wide scatter in values precluded their use as accurate indicators of liver damage in these children.

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