The survival rates for both adult and children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia have improved substantially in recent years with wider use of improved risk-directed therapy and supportive care. In nearly all developed countries, clinical practice guidelines have been formulated by multidisciplinary panels of leukaemia experts, with the goal of providing recommendations on standard treatment approaches based on current evidence. However, those guidelines do not take into account resource limitations in low-income countries, including financial and technical challenges. In Asia, there are huge disparities in economy and infrastructure among the countries, and even among different regions in some large countries. This review summarizes the recommendations developed for Asian countries by a panel of adult and paediatric leukaemia therapists, based on the availability of financial, skill and logistical resources, at a consensus session held as part of the 2013 Asian Oncology Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. The management strategies described here are stratified by a four-tier system (basic, limited, enhanced and maximum) based on the resources available to a particular country or region.
The 50th anniversary of Seminars in Hematology coincides with the 50th of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and both milestones are inexorably linked to studies contributing to the cure of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We thought it fitting, therefore, to mark these events by traveling back in time to point out some of the achievements, institutions, study groups and individuals that have made cure of childhood ALL a reality. In many instances, progress was driven by new ideas, while in others it was driven by new experimental tools that allowed more precise assessment of the biology of leukemic blasts and their utility in selecting therapy. We also discuss a number of contemporary advances that point the way to exciting future directions. Whatever pathways are taken, a clear challenge will be to use emerging genome-based or immunologic-based treatment options in ways that will enhance, rather than duplicate or compromise, recent gains in outcome with classic cytotoxic chemotherapy. The theme of this journey serves as a reminder of the chief ingredient of any research directed to a catastrophic disease such as ALL. It is the audacity of a small group of investigators who confronted a childhood cancer with the goal of cure, not palliation, as their mindset.
To measure longitudinal changes in body mass and composition in survivors of childhood hematologic malignancies after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT).
Patients and Methods
Body mass index (BMI) was analyzed in 179 survivors by category (underweight, healthy-weight, overweight, and obese) and by z score. Fat and lean body mass measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was analyzed as z scores.
Over a median 6.6 years of follow-up, BMI z scores diminished significantly (0.32 pre-HSCT v −0.60 at 10 years post-HSCT; P < .001). Mean z scores for fat mass stayed within population norms, but those for lean mass remained below normal levels and diminished significantly over time (P = .018). Pre-HSCT BMI category and/or z score were strongly predictive of post-HSCT BMI (P < .001) and of fat and lean mass z scores (both P < .001). Survivors with extensive chronic graft-versus-host disease were more likely than others to have low BMI (P = .004) and low lean mass (P < .001) post-HSCT. Older age at HSCT (P = .015) and T-cell–depleted graft (P = .018) were predictive of lower post-HSCT BMI. Female patients had higher body fat (P = .002) and lower lean mass (P = .013) z scores than male patients, and black patients had higher fat mass z scores than white patients (P = .026).
BMI declines significantly after allogeneic HSCT for childhood hematologic malignancies, reflecting primarily a substantial decrease in lean mass but not fat mass. Monitoring and preservation of BMI and lean mass are vital, especially in those with the identified risk factors.
Treatment outcome for black patients with cancer has been significantly worse than for their white counterparts. We determined whether recent improved treatment had narrowed the gap in outcome between black and white pediatric patients.
Patients and Methods
In a parallel comparison, we analyzed survival by disease category between black and white patients with childhood cancer registered in one of the 17 cancer registries of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program or treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, which provides comprehensive treatment to all patients regardless of their ability to pay, from 1992 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2007.
Analysis of the SEER data indicated that in both study periods, black patients had significantly poorer rates of survival than did white patients, with the exception of a few types of cancer. Despite significantly improved treatment outcomes for patients who were treated from 2001 to 2007, the racial difference in survival has actually widened for acute myeloid leukemia and neuroblastoma. By contrast, in the cohorts treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, there were no significant differences in survival between black and white patients in either study period, regardless of the cancer type. Importantly, the outcome of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and retinoblastoma has improved in parallel for both races during the most recent study period.
With equal access to comprehensive treatment, black and white children with cancer can achieve the same high cure rates.
To assess the toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of multikinase inhibitor sorafenib in combination with clofarabine and cytarabine in children with relapsed/refractory leukemia.
Patients and Methods
Twelve patients with acute leukemia (11 with acute myeloid leukemia [AML]) received sorafenib on days 1 to 7 and then concurrently with cytarabine (1 g/m2) and clofarabine (stratum one: 40 mg/m2, n = 10; stratum two [recent transplantation or fungal infection]: 20 mg/m2, n = 2) on days 8 to 12. Sorafenib was continued until day 28 if tolerated. Two sorafenib dose levels (200 mg/m2 and 150 mg/m2 twice daily) were planned. Sorafenib pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies were performed on days 7 and 8.
At sorafenib 200 mg/m2, two of four patients in stratum one and one of two patients in stratum two had grade 3 hand-foot skin reaction and/or rash as dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs). No DLTs were observed in six patients in stratum one at sorafenib 150 mg/m2. Sorafenib inhibited the phosphorylation of AKT, S6 ribosomal protein, and 4E-BP1 in leukemia cells. The rate of sorafenib conversion to its metabolite sorafenib N-oxide was high (mean, 33%; range, 17% to 69%). In vitro, the N-oxide potently inhibited FLT3–internal tandem duplication (ITD; binding constant, 70 nmol/L) and the viability of five AML cell lines. On day 8, sorafenib decreased blast percentages in 10 of 12 patients (median, 66%; range, 9% to 95%). After combination chemotherapy, six patients (three FLT3-ITD and three FLT3 wild-type AML) achieved complete remission, two (both FLT3-ITD AML) had complete remission with incomplete blood count recovery, and one (FLT3 wild-type AML) had partial remission.
Sorafenib in combination with clofarabine and cytarabine is tolerable and shows activity in relapsed/refractory pediatric AML.
We review recent advances in the biologic understanding and treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), identify therapeutically challenging subgroups, and suggest future directions of research.
A review of English literature on childhood acute leukemias from the past 5 years was performed.
Contemporary treatments have resulted in 5-year event-free survival rates of approximately 80% for childhood ALL and almost 60% for pediatric AML. The advent of high-resolution genome-wide analyses has provided new insights into leukemogenesis and identified many novel subtypes of leukemia. Virtually all ALL and the vast majority of AML cases can be classified according to specific genetic abnormalities. Cooperative mutations involved in cell differentiation, cell cycle regulation, tumor suppression, drug responsiveness, and apoptosis have also been identified in many cases. The development of new formulations of existing drugs, molecularly targeted therapy, and immunotherapies promises to further advance the cure rates and improve quality of life of patients.
The application of new high-throughput sequencing techniques to define the complete DNA sequence of leukemia and host normal cells and the development of new agents targeted to leukemogenic pathways promise to further improve outcome in the coming decade.
The prognosis for older adolescents and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been historically much worse than that for younger patients. We reviewed the outcome of older adolescents (age 15 to 18 years) treated in four consecutive Total Therapy studies to determine if recent improved treatment extended to this high-risk group.
Patients and Methods
Between 1991 and 2007, 963 pediatric patients, including 89 older adolescents, were enrolled on Total Therapy studies XIIIA, XIIIB, XIV, and XV. In the first three studies, treatment selection was based on presenting clinical features and leukemic cell genetics. In study XV, the level of residual disease was used to guide treatment, which featured intensive methotrexate, glucocorticoid, vincristine, and asparaginase, as well as early triple intrathecal therapy for higher-risk ALL.
The 89 older adolescents were significantly more likely to have T-cell ALL, the t(4;11)(MLL-AF4), and detectable minimal residual disease during or at the end of remission induction; they were less likely to have the t(12;21)(ETV6-RUNX1) compared with younger patients. In the first three studies, the 44 older adolescents had significantly poorer event-free survival and overall survival than the 403 younger patients. This gap in prognosis was abolished in study XV: event-free survival rates at 5 years were 86.4% ± 5.2% (standard error) for the 45 older adolescents and 87.4% ± 1.7% for the 453 younger patients; overall survival rates were 87.9% ± 5.1% versus 94.1% ± 1.2%, respectively.
Most older adolescents with ALL can be cured with risk-adjusted intensive chemotherapy without stem-cell transplantation.
Asparaginases are a cornerstone of treatment protocols for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and are used for remission induction and intensification treatment in all pediatric regimens and in the majority of adult protocols. Extensive clinical data have shown that intensive asparaginase treatment improves clinical outcomes in childhood ALL. Three asparaginase preparations are available; the native asparaginase derived from Escherichia coli (E. coli-asparaginase), a pegylated form of this enzyme (PEG-asparaginase) and a product isolated from Erwinia chrysanthemi, i.e. Erwinia asparaginase. Clinical hypersensitivity reactions and silent inactivation due to antibodies against E.coli-asparaginase, lead to inactivation of E-Coli asparaginase in up to 60% of cases. Current treatment protocols include E. coli-asparaginase or PEG-asparaginase for first-line treatment of ALL. Typically, patients exhibiting sensitivity to one formulation of asparaginase are switched to another product to ensure they receive the most efficacious treatment regimen possible. Erwinia asparaginase is used as a second- or third-line treatment in European and US protocols. Despite the universal inclusion of asparaginase in such treatment protocols, there is much debate regarding the optimal formulation and dosage of these agents. This manuscript provides an overview of available evidence to make recommendations for optimal use of Erwinia asparaginase in the treatment of ALL.
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; asparagine depletion; asparaginase; Erwinia asparaginase; Erwinase; ALL
Because survival with both chemotherapy and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) approaches to high risk pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) generally improves through the years, regular comparisons of outcomes with either approach for a given indication are needed to decide when HSCT is indicated. Improvements in risk classification are allowing clinicians to identify patients at high risk for relapse early in their course of therapy. Whether patients defined as high risk by new methods will benefit from HSCT requires careful testing. Standardization and improvement of transplant approaches has led to equivalent survival outcomes with matched sibling and well-matched unrelated donors, however, survival using mismatched and haploidentical donors is generally worse. Trials comparing chemotherapy and HSCT must obtain sufficient data about therapy and stratify the analysis to assess the outcomes of best-chemotherapy with best-HSCT approaches.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) 5-year survival rates are approaching 90% in children and 50% in adults who are receiving contemporary risk-directed treatment protocols. Current efforts focus not only on further improving cure rate but also on patient quality of life. Hence, all protocols decrease or limit the use of cranial irradiation as central nervous system (CNS)-directed therapy, even in patients with high-risk presenting features, such as the presence of leukemia cells in the cerebrospinal fluid (even resulting from traumatic lumbar puncture), adverse genetic features, T-cell immunophenotype, and a large leukemia-cell burden. Current strategies for CNS-directed therapy involve effective systemic chemotherapy (eg, dexamethasone, high-dose methotrexate, intensive asparaginase, ifosfamide) and early intensification and optimization of intrathecal therapy. Options under investigation for the treatment of relapsed or refractory CNS leukemia in ALL patients include thiotepa and intrathecal liposomal cytarabine. CNS involvement in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is associated with young age, advanced stage, number of extranodal sites, elevated lactate dehydrogenase, and International Prognostic Index score. Refractory CNS lymphoma in patients with NHL carries a poor prognosis, with a median survival of 2 to 6 months; the most promising treatment, autologous stem cell transplant, can extend median survival from 10 to 26 months. CNS prophylaxis is required during the initial treatment of NHL subtypes that carry a high risk of CNS relapse, such as B-cell ALL, Burkitt’s lymphoma, and lymphoblastic lymphoma. The use of CNS prophylaxis in the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is controversial because of the low risk of CNS relapse (~5%) in this population. In this article, we review current and past practice of intrathecal therapy in ALL and NHL and the risk-models that aim to identify predictors of CNS relapse in NHL.
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; CNS-directed therapy; liposomal cytarabine; thiotepa
Second malignant neoplasms (SMNs) after diagnosis of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are rare events.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed data on risk factors and outcomes of 642 children with SMNs occurring after treatment for ALL from 18 collaborative study groups between 1980 and 2007.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML; n = 186), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS; n = 69), and nonmeningioma brain tumor (n = 116) were the most common types of SMNs and had the poorest outcome (5-year survival rate, 18.1% ± 2.9%, 31.1% ± 6.2%, and 18.3% ± 3.8%, respectively). Five-year survival estimates for AML were 11.2% ± 2.9% for 125 patients diagnosed before 2000 and 34.1% ± 6.3% for 61 patients diagnosed after 2000 (P < .001); 5-year survival estimates for MDS were 17.1% ± 6.4% (n = 36) and 48.2% ± 10.6% (n = 33; P = .005). Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation failed to improve outcome of secondary myeloid malignancies after adjusting for waiting time to transplantation. Five-year survival rates were above 90% for patients with meningioma, Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and parotid gland tumor, and 68.5% ± 6.4% for those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Eighty-nine percent of patients with brain tumors had received cranial irradiation. Solid tumors were associated with cyclophosphamide exposure, and myeloid malignancy was associated with topoisomerase II inhibitors and starting doses of methotrexate of at least 25 mg/m2 per week and mercaptopurine of at least 75 mg/m2 per day. Myeloid malignancies with monosomy 7/5q− were associated with high hyperdiploid ALL karyotypes, whereas 11q23/MLL-rearranged AML or MDS was associated with ALL harboring translocations of t(9;22), t(4;11), t(1;19), and t(12;21) (P = .03).
SMNs, except for brain tumors, AML, and MDS, have outcomes similar to their primary counterparts.
In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), initial treatment response by morphologic analysis of bone marrow predicts long-term outcome. Response can now be assessed by minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring with flow cytometry or polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We determined the relation among the results of these approaches and their prognostic value.
Patients and Methods
In the multicenter AML02 study, follow-up bone marrow samples from 203 children and adolescents with newly diagnosed AML were examined by flow cytometry (n = 1,514), morphology (n = 1,382), and PCR amplification of fusion transcripts (n = 508). Results were correlated with treatment outcome.
Among 1,215 samples with less than 5% leukemic myeloblasts by morphology, 100 (8.2%) were MRD positive (≥ 0.1%) by flow cytometry, whereas 96 (57.5%) of the 167 samples with ≥ 5% blasts were MRD negative. Virtually all (308 of 311; 99.0%) MRD-negative samples by PCR were also MRD negative by flow cytometry. However, only 19 (9.6%) of the 197 PCR-positive samples were flow cytometry positive, with analyses of AML1-ETO and CBFβ-MYH11 accounting for most discrepancies, whereas eight of 13 MLL-positive samples had detectable MRD by flow cytometry. MRD by flow cytometry after induction 1 or 2 predicted lower event-free survival and higher relapse rate (P < .001) and was an independent prognostic factor in a multivariable analysis; prediction was not improved by morphologic information or molecular findings.
In childhood AML, morphologic assessment of treatment response has limited value if MRD is measured by flow cytometry. MLL fusion transcripts can provide prognostic information in some patients, whereas monitoring of AML1-ETO and CBFβ-MYH11 transcripts is largely uninformative.
Failure of remission-induction therapy is a rare but highly adverse event in children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
We identified induction failure, defined by the persistence of leukemic blasts in blood, bone marrow, or any extramedullary site after 4 to 6 weeks of remission-induction therapy, in 1041 of 44,017 patients (2.4%) 0 to 18 years of age with newly diagnosed ALL who were treated by a total of 14 cooperative study groups between 1985 and 2000. We analyzed the relationships among disease characteristics, treatments administered, and outcomes in these patients.
Patients with induction failure frequently presented with high-risk features, including older age, high leukocyte count, leukemia with a T-cell phenotype, the Philadelphia chromosome, and 11q23 rearrangement. With a median follow-up period of 8.3 years (range, 1.5 to 22.1), the 10-year survival rate (±SE) was estimated at only 32±1%. An age of 10 years or older, T-cell leukemia, the presence of an 11q23 rearrangement, and 25% or more blasts in the bone marrow at the end of induction therapy were associated with a particularly poor outcome. High hyperdiploidy (a modal chromosome number >50) and an age of 1 to 5 years were associated with a favorable outcome in patients with precursor B-cell leukemia. Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation from matched, related donors was associated with improved outcomes in T-cell leukemia. Children younger than 6 years of age with precursor B-cell leukemia and no adverse genetic features had a 10-year survival rate of 72±5% when treated with chemotherapy only.
Pediatric ALL with induction failure is highly heterogeneous. Patients who have T-cell leukemia appear to have a better outcome with allogeneic stem-cell transplantation than with chemotherapy, whereas patients who have precursor B-cell leukemia without other adverse features appear to have a better outcome with chemotherapy. (Funded by Deutsche Krebshilfe and others.)
Improvements in protocol-driven clinical trials and supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer have reduced mortality rates by more than 50% over the past three decades. Overall, the 5-year survival rate for pediatric cancer patients has increased to approximately 80%. Recognition of the biological heterogeneity within specific subtypes of cancer, the discovery of genetic lesions that drive malignant transformation and cancer progression, and improved understanding of the basis of drug resistance will undoubtedly catalyze further advances in risk-directed treatments and the development of targeted therapies, boosting the cure rates further. Emerging new treatments include novel formulations of existing chemotherapeutic agents, monoclonal antibodies against cancer-associated antigens, and molecular therapies that target genetic lesions and their associated signaling pathways. Recent findings that link pharmacogenomic variations with drug exposure, adverse effects, and efficacy should accelerate efforts to develop personalized therapy for individual patients. Finally, palliative care should be included as an essential part of cancer management to prevent and relieve the suffering and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
We conducted a clinical trial to test whether prophylactic cranial irradiation could be omitted in all children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
A total of 498 evaluable patients were enrolled. Treatment intensity was based on presenting features and the level of minimal residual disease after remission induction treatment. Continuous complete remission was compared between the 71 patients who previously would have received prophylactic cranial irradiation and the 56 historical controls who received it.
The 5-year event-free and overall survival probabilities (95% confidence interval) for all 498 patients were 85.6% (79.9% to 91.3%) and 93.5% (89.8% to 97.2%), respectively. The 5-year cumulative risk of isolated central-nervous-system (CNS) relapse was 2.7% (1.1% to 4.2%), and that of any CNS relapse (isolated plus combined) was 3.9% (1.9% to 5.9%). The 71 patients had significantly better continuous complete remission than the 56 historical controls (P=0.04). All 11 patients with isolated CNS relapse remain in second remission for 0.4 to 5.5 years. CNS leukemia (CNS-3 status) or a traumatic lumbar puncture with blasts at diagnosis and a high level of minimal residual disease (≥ 1%) after 6 weeks of remission induction were significantly associated with poorer event-free survival. Risk factors for CNS relapse included the presence of the t(1;19)[TCF3-PBX1], any CNS involvement at diagnosis, and T-cell immunophenotype. Common adverse effects included allergic reactions to L-asparaginase, osteonecrosis, thrombosis, and disseminated fungal infection.
With effective risk-adjusted chemotherapy, prophylactic cranial irradiation can be safely omitted in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) is an active agent for the treatment of CD33-postive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and may improve the outcome of specific patient subgroups when combined with conventional chemotherapy. However, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, the effects of GO on levels of minimal residual disease (MRD) are unknown.
Pediatric patients with AML who received GO, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy on the AML02 multicenter trial, were analyzed to determine the effects of GO on MRD and outcome.
Among 17 patients who received GO alone because of persistent leukemia, 14 had a reduction in their MRD level and 13 became MRD negative. Of the 29 who received chemotherapy in combination with GO after responding poorly to chemotherapy, 28 demonstrated reduced MRD and 13 became MRD negative. Treatment with GO effectively reduced MRD before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and was not found to be associated with increased treatment-related mortality after transplantation.
GO is effective in reducing MRD levels in pediatric patients with AML and may improve the outcome of those patients at high risk of disease recurrence.
acute myeloid leukemia; minimal residual disease; gemtuzumab ozogamicin; treatment-related mortality
To determine rates, patterns, and predictors of neurocognitive impairment in adults decades after treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Patients and Methods
Survivors of childhood ALL treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital who were still alive at 10 or more years after diagnosis and were age ≥ 18 years were recruited for neurocognitive testing. In all, 1,014 survivors were eligible, 738 (72.8%) agreed to participate, and 567 (76.8%) of these were evaluated. Mean age was 33 years; mean time since diagnosis was 26 years. Medical record abstraction was performed for data on doses of cranial radiation therapy (CRT) and cumulative chemotherapy. Multivariable modeling was conducted and glmulti package was used to select the best model with minimum Akaike information criterion.
Impairment rates across neurocognitive domains ranged from 28.6% to 58.9%, and those treated with chemotherapy only demonstrated increased impairment in all domains (all P values < .006). In survivors who received no CRT, dexamethasone was associated with impaired attention (relative risk [RR], 2.12; 95% CI, 1.11 to 4.03) and executive function (RR, 2.42; 95% CI, 1.20 to 4.91). The impact of CRT was dependent on young age at diagnosis for intelligence, academic, and memory functions. Risk for executive function problems increased with survival time in a CRT dose-dependent fashion. In all survivors, self-reported behavior problems increased by 5% (RR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.09) with each year from diagnosis. Impairment was associated with reduced educational attainment and unemployment.
This study demonstrates persistent and significant neurocognitive impairment in adult survivors of childhood ALL and warrants ongoing monitoring of brain health to facilitate successful adult development and to detect early onset of decline as survivors mature.
Long-term outcomes of seizures that develop during treatment of childhood hematological malignancies have not been described. We analyzed seizure outcome in 62 children with leukemia or lymphoma treated at our institution. There was a median follow-up of 6.5 years since first seizure. Seizure etiology included intrathecal or systemic methotrexate in 24, leucoencephalopathy in 11, brain hemorrhage or thrombosis in 11, meningitis in 4, and no identifiable cause in 12. Seizures remained uncontrolled in 18, and risk factors for poor control included female sex (P = .02), no seizure control with first antiseizure drug (P = .08), and longer interval between cancer diagnosis and seizure onset (P = .09). Poor seizure control after initial antiseizure drug also predicted recurrent seizure after drug withdrawal (P = .04). In conclusion, seizures are controlled with medications in a majority of patients with hematological cancer. After a period without seizures, antiseizure drug withdrawal in appropriately selected patient has a high success rate.
leukemia; lymphoma; seizures; outcome; hematological malignancy; methotrexate
Dexamethasone is used in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment, though long-term impact on central nervous system (CNS) function is unclear. As glucocorticoids influence hippocampal function, we investigated memory networks in survivors of childhood ALL treated with dexamethasone or prednisone.
Neurocognitive assessment and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were conducted in 38 adult survivors randomly recruited from cohorts treated on one of two standard treatment protocols, which differed primarily in the glucocorticoid administered during continuation therapy (dexamethasone [n=18] vs. prednisone [n=20]). Groups did not differ in age at diagnosis, age at evaluation, or cumulative intravenous or intrathecal methotrexate exposure.
Survivors treated with dexamethasone demonstrated lower performance on multiple memory-dependent measures, including story memory (p=0.01) and word recognition (p=0.04), compared to survivors treated with only prednisone. Dexamethasone treatment was associated with decreased fMRI activity in the left retrosplenial brain region (effect size =1.3), though the small sample size limited statistical significance (p=0.08). Story memory was associated with altered activation in left inferior frontal-temporal brain regions (p=0.007).
Results from this pilot study suggest that adult survivors of ALL treated with dexamethasone are at increased risk for memory deficits and altered neural activity in specific brain regions and networks associated with memory function.
Leukemia; fMRI; memory; survivors; glucocorticoid; retrosplenium
Survivors of childhood cancer are at increased risk of developing subsequent neoplasms. In long term survivors of childhood malignancies treated with and without cranial radiation therapy (CRT), undergoing unenhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, we estimated detection of intracranial neoplasms.
To investigate neurocognitive outcomes, 219 survivors of childhood cancer underwent unenhanced screening MRI of the brain. 164 of the survivors had been treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (125 received CRT), and 55 for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) (none received CRT). MRI examinations were reviewed and systematically coded by a single neuroradiologist. Demographic and treatment characteristics were compared for survivors with and without subsequent neoplasms.
Nineteen of the 219 survivors (8.7%) had a total of 31 subsequent intracranial neoplasms identified by neuroimaging at a median time of 25 years (range 12-46 years) from diagnosis. All neoplasms occurred after CRT, except for a single vestibular schwannoma within the cervical radiation field in a HL survivor. The prevalence of subsequent neoplasms after CRT exposure was 14.4% (18 of 125). By noncontrast MRI, intracranial neoplasms were most suggestive of meningiomas. Most patients presented with no specific, localizing neurological complaints. In addition to the schwannoma, six tumors were resected based on results of MRI screening, all of which were meningiomas on histologic review.
Unenhanced brain MRI of long-term survivors of childhood cancer detected a substantial number of intracranial neoplasms. Screening for early detection of intracranial neoplasms among aging survivors of childhood cancer who received CRT should be evaluated.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
The high prevalence of incidentally detected subsequent intracranial neoplasms after CRT in long-term survivors of childhood cancer and the minimal symptoms reported by those with intracranial tumors in our study indicate that brain MRI screening of long-term survivors who received CRT may be warranted. Prospective studies of such screening are needed.
Survivors of Childhood Cancer; Cranial Radiation Therapy; Subsequent Intracranial Neoplasms; Meningiomas
Dendritic cell leukemia (DCL) or hematodermic tumor is an uncommon subtype of acute leukemia. In contrast to adult cases, children tend to have a less aggressive course. The diagnosis of DCL should be considered when its characteristic morphologic features are present and leukemic cells co-express CD4 and CD56. Cases of DCL among pediatric patients have been reported to respond to therapeutic regimens for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but details regarding the specifics of therapy are lacking.
dendritic cell; leukemia; CD4; CD56; hematodermic tumors
The efficacy of combination chemotherapy with methotrexate (MTX) and asparaginase is not well known in relapsed and refractory acute leukemia after contemporary therapy.
A retrospective study of pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who received MTX and asparaginase as a salvage therapy at St. Jude Children Research Hospital was performed. MTX was given intravenously followed by a dose of asparaginase intramuscularly or intravenously 24 hours later. The chemotherapy cycle was repeated every 7-10 days. Response, survival, and toxicities were evaluated.
Fifteen patients, median age 10.5 years (range, 1.1-18.5 years), were treated. Median number of previous therapeutic regimens was 3 (range, 1-4). Six patients responded to treatment (3 had morphologic complete remission with incomplete blood count recovery, 2 had partial remission, and 1 had stable disease for 16 months), and 4 are still alive. Three of 6 responders had monoblastic leukemia, and also developed tumor lysis syndrome. The 1- and 2-year overall survival rates are 35.6% and 17.8%, respectively. The most common adverse event was transient elevation of transaminases (9 patients). Two patients developed pancreatitis. Episodes of febrile neutropenia were rare (2 patients), and most courses (75 out of 93 total courses) were given in an outpatient setting.
Combination chemotherapy with MTX and asparaginase appears to be an effective salvage therapy and well tolerated in patients with relapsed or refractory childhood AML, even in those heavily pretreated with contemporary frontline or salvage therapy.
acute myeloid leukemia; methotrexate; asparaginase; children; relapse