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  • Continuing (maintenance) therapy in lymphoblastic leukaemia: lessons from MRC UKALL X. Medical Research Council Working Party in Childhood Leukaemia.

    29 August 2018

    The relationship between the prescribed dose of drugs during continuing (maintenance) therapy, the degree of marrow suppression caused, and subsequent event-free survival was examined in a cohort of 740 children with lymphoblastic leukaemia treated on MRC UKALL X. Girls, younger children, and patients who had received intensification treatment, were prescribed lower doses of mercaptopurine, became neutropenic more readily, and had more interruptions of treatment. Children who had one or more episodes of neutropenia with a count of <0.5 x 10(9)/l had a better prognosis than those who never became neutropenic. We conclude that early intensification treatment influences the probability of neutropenia during continuing treatment and that patients exhibiting myelosuppression during this phase of treatment have a better chance of prolonged remission.

  • Failure of a new protocol to improve treatment results in paediatric lymphoblastic leukaemia: lessons from the UK Medical Research Council trials UKALL X and UKALL XI.

    29 August 2018

    The impact of various types of intensification therapy was examined in a cohort of 3617 children aged 1-14 years with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) enrolled in the Medical Research Council (MRC) UKALL X (1985-90) and UKALL XI (1990-97) trials. UKALL XI was modified in 1992 to incorporate the "best arm" of UKALL X with two 5-d intensification blocks at 5 and 20 weeks, and an additional randomization in respect of a third intensification at 35 weeks but omission of two consecutive injections of daunorubicin during induction. All children were eligible for randomization irrespective of risk group. The impact of the various types of intensification therapy was examined in a stratified analysis. At a median follow up of 102 months, both trials had an identical event-free survival of 61% (95% CI 58-63%) at 8 years. Survival at 8 years in UKALL XI was significantly better in than in UKALL X, 81% (79-83%) compared with 74% (72-76%) (P = < 0.001), owing to improved management of relapse. There was a highly significant trend in reduction of the number of relapses and deaths with increased intensity of therapy both for children with initial leucocyte count < 50 x 10(9)/l (P = < 0.001) and > or = 50 x 10(9)/l (P = 0.002). Introduction of a third late intensification block compensated for omission of anthracyclines during induction but produced little additional benefit. These results show, in a large cohort of patients, that minor modifications of therapy may influence relapse rate and obviate the benefit of previous randomized trials. The failure to adapt treatment for higher risk children contributed to these disappointing results.

  • The value of allogeneic bone marrow transplant in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia at differing risk of relapse: results of the UK MRC AML 10 trial.

    29 August 2018

    Patients under 55 years in the United Kingdom Medical Research Council Acute Myeloid Leukaemia 10 trial who entered complete remission were tissue typed (n = 1063). Four hundred and nineteen had a matched sibling donor and 644 had no match. When compared on a donor versus no donor basis the relapse risk was reduced in the donor arm (36%vs 52%; P = 0.001) and the disease-free survival (DFS) improved (50%vs 42%; P = 0.01), but overall survival (OS) was not different (55%vs 50%; P = 0.1). Sixty-one per cent of patients with a donor underwent transplantation. When patients were subdivided into risk groups based on cytogenetics alone or with the addition of blast response to course 1, a reduction in relapse risk was seen in all risk groups and in three age cohorts (0-14, 15-34 and 35+ years). Significant benefit in DFS was only seen in the intermediate-risk cytogenetic group (50%vs 39%; P = 0.004). The OS benefit was only seen in intermediate-risk patients (55%vs 44%; P = 0.02). The reduction in relapse risk in good-risk patients was attributable to patients with t(15;17) and not to patients with t(8;21) or inv(16). Allogeneic transplantation given after intensive chemotherapy was able to reduce relapse in all risk and age groups. However, due to the competing effects of procedural mortality and an inferior response to chemotherapy if relapse does occur, there was a survival advantage only in patients of intermediate risk. This trial found no survival advantage in children, patients over 35 years or good-risk disease.

  • Comparison of allogeneic transplant versus chemotherapy for relapsed childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in the MRC UKALL R1 trial. MRC Childhood Leukaemia Working Party.

    29 August 2018

    BACKGROUND: Although reinduction rates are good for children with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia there is no consensus on whether bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is the most effective treatment to prolong second remission. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Analyses comparing the outcome of related donor allogeneic BMT (related allograft) with chemotherapy are unreliable because of selection biases. To avoid these biases, the MRC UKALL R1 trial was analysed by HLA-matched donor availability. RESULTS: No significant difference in outcome was found between the donor and no donor groups. The donor group had a non-significant eight-year event-free survival (EFS) advantage of 8%, (95% confidence interval -9%-24%) over the no donor group. Patients with a first remission less than two years appeared to benefit most from having a donor, although the effect was only marginally significantly different from patients with longer first remission. Analysis by treatment received gave similar results, with BMT patients having a 5% (P = 0.8) eight-year EFS advantage over patients who received chemotherapy. CONCLUSIONS: Related allograft was not found to be significantly better than chemotherapy, but there was the possibility of a moderate EFS benefit with related allograft. especially in patients with a short first remission.

  • High hyperdiploidy among adolescents and adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL): cytogenetic features, clinical characteristics and outcome.

    29 August 2018

    High hyperdiploidy (HeH, 51-65 chromosomes) is an established genetic subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The clinical and cytogenetic features as well as outcome of HeH among adolescents and adults have not been thoroughly investigated. Among 1232 B-cell precursor ALL patients (15-65 years) treated in the UKALLXII/ECOG2993 trial, 160 (13%) had a HeH karyotype, including 80 patients aged >24 years. The frequency of HeH was the same in Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive and -negative cases, but Ph-positive patients were older. The cytogenetic profiles of Ph-positive and Ph-negative HeH cases were similar, although trisomy 2 was strongly associated with Ph-positive HeH. Overall, Ph-positive HeH patients did not have an inferior overall survival compared with Ph-negative patients (P=0.2: 50 vs 57% at 5 years). Trisomy of chromosome 4 was associated with a superior outcome in Ph-negative patients, whereas +5 and +20 were associated with an inferior outcome in Ph-positive and Ph-negative patients, respectively. All three markers retained significance in multivariate analysis adjusting for age and white cell count: hazard ratio for risk of death 0.47 (95% CI: 0.27-0.84) (P=0.01), 3.73 (1.51-9.21) (P=0.004) and 2.63 (1.25-5.54) (P=0.01), respectively. In conclusion, HeH is an important subtype of ALL at all ages and displays outcome heterogeneity according to chromosomal gain.

  • Improved outcome of acute myeloid leukaemia in Down's syndrome.

    29 August 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To review the clinical features, treatment, and outcome of children in the UK with Down's syndrome and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). DESIGN: A retrospective study of 59 children with Down's syndrome and AML presenting between 1987 and 1995. Data were obtained from hospital case notes, trial records, and by questionnaire. RESULTS: The patients were unusually young (median age, 23 months) with a predominance of megakaryoblastic AML. Two of the seven infants who presented with abnormal myelopoesis aged 2 months or younger achieved complete spontaneous remission. Most of the older children with AML (32 of 52) were treated on recognised intensive protocols but 13 received individualised treatment and seven symptomatic treatment alone. Only four received a bone marrow transplant (BMT) in first remission. For the 45 older children who received chemotherapy the overall survival was 55% (median follow up 4.5 years). Patients on individualised protocols had a similar overall survival and toxic death rate but marginally higher relapse rate than those on standard (intensive) protocols. Children with Down's syndrome treated on the national AML 10 trial had a similar overall survival (70% v 59%) at five years to children of comparable age without Down's syndrome: their improved relapse risk (12% v 38%) offset the slight increase in deaths as a result of treatment toxicity (19% v 11%). CONCLUSION: Neonates with Down's syndrome and abnormal myelopoesis may achieve spontaneous remission, and older children with Down's syndrome and AML can be treated successfully with intensive chemotherapy, without BMT.