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  • Outcomes in older adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL): results from the international MRC UKALL XII/ECOG2993 trial.

    29 August 2018

    Although the incidence rate of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is slightly higher in older than in younger adults, response rates to induction chemotherapy and survival rates are poorer. The contribution of disease-related versus treatment-related factors remains unclear. We analysed 100 older patients (aged 55-65 years) treated on the UKALLXII/ECOG2993 trial compared with 1814 younger patients (aged 14-54 years). Baseline characteristics, induction chemotherapy course, infections, drug reductions and survival outcomes were compared. There were more Philadelphia-positive (Ph+) patients in the older group (28% vs. 17%, P = 0·02), and a trend towards higher combined cytogenetic risk score (46% vs. 35%, P = 0·07). The complete remission rate in older patients was worse (73% vs. 93%, P < 0·0001) as was 5-year overall survival (21% vs. 41%, P < 0·0001) and event-free survival (EFS) (19% vs. 37%, P < 0·0001). Older patients had more infections during induction (81% vs. 70%, P = 0·05), and drug reductions (46% vs. 28%, P = 0·0009). Among older patients, Ph+ and cytogenetic risk category as well as infection during induction predicted for worse EFS. Poorer outcomes in these patients are partly due to cytogenetic risk, but there is significant morbidity and mortality during induction chemotherapy with frequent delays and drug reductions. New approaches, including better risk stratification and use of targeted therapies, could improve treatment for these patients.

  • Adverse impact of bone marrow transplantation on quality of life in acute myeloid leukaemia patients; analysis of the UK Medical Research Council AML 10 Trial.

    29 August 2018

    The increasing success of intensive consolidation chemotherapy (CCT) as an alternative to bone marrow transplant (BMT) in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) necessitates comparison of the impact on quality of life (QoL) of these two treatment modalities. Most QoL studies following BMT involve small patient numbers and provide ambivalent results. The present study examines QoL in a large number of patients 1 year from the end of treatment within the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (UK MRC) AML10 trial of BMT versus CCT. Allogeneic-BMT (Allo-BMT) was observed to have an adverse impact on most QoL dimensions compared with Autologous-BMT (A-BMT) and CCT. More patients receiving BMT had mouth dryness problems and worse sexual and social relationships, professional and leisure activities than CCT patients. QoL in A-BMT patients was less impacted than Allo-BMT. Intention-to-treat analysis showed similar results. These results indicate that a reconsideration of treatment strategies is warranted, and that further, good prospective studies are needed to evaluate more clearly the effects of these treatments in long-term survivors.

  • Clinical features, cytogenetics and outcome in acute lymphoblastic and myeloid leukaemia of infancy: report from the MRC Childhood Leukaemia working party.

    29 August 2018

    The clinical features, cytogenetics and response to treatment have been examined in 180 infants (aged <1 year) with acute leukaemia; 118 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and 62 with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Comparison of clinical features showed no difference in age or sex distribution between infants with ALL and AML but infants with ALL tended to have higher leucocyte counts at presentation. Cytogenetic abnormalities involving 11q23 were found in 66% of ALL and 35% of AML cases, the commonest, t(4;11) being found only in ALL. The other recognised 11q23 translocations were found in both types of leukaemia. Few patients had the common cytogenetic abnormalities associated with ALL in older children and few with AML had good risk abnormalities. Four year event-free survival 60% cf 30% (P = 0.001) and survival 65% cf 41% (P = 0.007) were significantly better in AML than ALL. These results were due to a lower risk of relapse 27% cf 62% at four years. Superior event-free survival was also seen in the subgroup of patients with 11q23 abnormalities and AML (55% cf 23%). The reasons for superior response in AML are unknown but may be related to the intensity of treatment, lineage of the leukaemia or other as yet unidentified factors.

  • Del (9q) AML: clinical and cytological characteristics and prognostic implications.

    29 August 2018

    Del (9q) is a recurrent cytogenetic abnormality in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). We report an analysis of 81 patients with del(9q) as a diagnostic karyotypic abnormality entered into the Medical Research Council AML trials 10, 11 and 12. Patients were divided into three groups: (i) Sole del (9q), 21 patients; (ii) Del(9q) in association with t(8;21), 29 patients; (iii) Del(9q) in association with other cytogenetic abnormalities, 31 patients. Sole del(9q) was associated with a characteristic bone marrow phenotype at diagnosis: a single Auer rod was found in all cases examined. There was also an association with erythroid dysplasia (74%) and granylocytic lineage vacuolation (90%). The incidence of all three of these features was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the sole del(9q) group compared with control cases lacking del(9q). The overall survival (OS) of all 81 patients was compared with a control group of 1738 patients with normal cytogenetics entered in the same trials over the period of investigation. The 5-year OS for patients with del(9q) was 45%, compared with 35% for the control group (P = 0.09). Patients with del(9q) in association with t(8;21) had a 5-year OS of 75%, which was significantly better than the groups with either sole del(9q) (40%) and del(9q) with other abnormalities (26%; P = 0.008). Karyotyping indicated a common area of deletion in the region 9q21-22, which was present in 94% of cases. It is likely that the deletion of single or multiple tumour suppressor genes located in this region may underlie the pathogenesis of del (9q) AML.

  • Intraocular relapse of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

    29 August 2018

    Relapse of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) involving the eye is a rare but challenging problem. Twenty cases occurred in patients treated on the Medical Research Council United Kingdom Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia XI and ALL97 trials between 1991 and 2001, representing 2.2% of ALL relapses. Seventeen occurred as a first relapse, either in isolation or combined with relapse at another site, and three occurred as a second relapse. All patients with intraocular disease at first relapse were treated with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but the doses and protocols used varied. Eleven of these 17 patients are alive and in complete remission with a median follow up of 4 years 2 months from relapse. All 11 children that were treated with a full chemotherapy relapse protocol, together with local radiotherapy have survived. Patients treated with chemotherapy of shorter duration and intensity, despite radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, did poorly with only one survivor, currently in chronic relapse. Consequently, we suggest that children with eye relapse of ALL be treated with an intensive relapse chemotherapy protocol with local ocular radiotherapy, whether the relapse occurs in isolation or in combination with relapse at another site.