According to data from the largest study ever conducted of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients who fail to attain clinical remission after induction therapy, there may be a secondary treatment option less drastic than what's currently the norm.
Right now, pediatric ALL patients who fail induction therapy are often steered towards bone marrow transplantations, which have a host of potential complications but nonetheless remain the best hope for ALL patients who fail induction therapy.
However, in the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine researchers including those from Children's Cancer Group and Pediatric Oncology Group, among others, evaluated the outcomes of 44,017 ALL patients age 17 and younger whose cancer was discovered during a 15-year period ending in December 2000. Each patient took part in a clinical trial and researchers tracked 1,041 patients whose cancer did not go into remission following four to six weeks of induction therapy.
Normally these patients have just a 32% overall long-term survival, compared to those whose induction therapy is successful, which is 80%.
Researchers determined that a certain subset of these ALL patients who fail induction therapy can benefit greatly from additional chemotherapy following induction therapy; these patients tended to have more than 50 chromosomes in their ALL cells, compared to 46.
When these patients were treated with added chemotherapy, their long-term survival was boosted to 72 percent, giving doctors another option when battling refractory ALL in children.