Many children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) develop a marrow relapse during or shortly following initial continuation chemotherapy. Achievement of a second complete remission is the initial step in a successful retreatment effort. Reinduction results using two or three drugs have been unsatisfactory, and previous reports of four-drug reinduction programs have included relatively small numbers of patients. Pediatric Oncology Group protocol 8303 was designed for patients with ALL in first marrow relapse during or within 6 months after cessation of chemotherapy. The results of reinduction therapy in 297 study patients are described here. Four-drug reinduction therapy consisted of daily oral prednisone, weekly vincristine and daunorubicin, and asparaginase three times weekly for 4 weeks (PVDA). CNS retreatment consisted of two doses of triple intrathecal chemotherapy. Of the 297 patients receiving reinduction, 245, or 82%, entered second complete remisssion, six died of infection or progressive disease, and 46 others still had M2 or M3 bone marrow status. Forty of these latter patients received four doses (during a 2-week period) of teniposide and cytarabine, after which 13 (32%) achieved complete remission status. Thus, the overall second complete remission rate with PVDA with or without teniposide/cytarabine was 258 of 297, or 87%. The treatment program was generally well tolerated. Among the numerous factors analyzed by using logistic regression, only female sex (P = .035), the presence of blasts on the blood smear at the time of relapse (P = .0002), and a length of initial complete remission less than 12 months (P = .021) were independent predictors of failure to enter second remission. We conclude that the intensive reinduction program described here is a highly effective first step in the delivery of salvage therapy to patients with AL in first marrow relapse. The current challenge is to develop improved continuation treatment for these children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology