Improved survival of children with isolated CNS relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia: A pediatric oncology group study

A. Kim Ritchey, Brad H. Pollock, Stephen J. Lauer, Yvonne Andejeski, George R. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Purpose: Isolated meningeal relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) usually has been followed by bone marrow relapse and limited survival. The purpose of this study was to prevent marrow relapse by administering intensive therapy before delayed craniospinal radiation. Patients and Methods: Eighty-three patients with ALL in first bone marrow remission with an isolated CNS relapse were treated with systemic chemotherapy known to enter into the CSF and intrathecal chemotherapy for 6 months. Craniospinal irradiation (24 Gy cranial/15 Gy spinal) was then administered, followed by 1.5 years of maintenance chemotherapy. Results: All 83 patients achieved a second remission. The 4-year event-free survival (EFS) rate was 71.1% ± 5.3%. There was a fourfold increased risk of relapse for children whose initial remission was less than 18 months. The 4-year EFS rate for patients with a first complete remission ≥ 18 months was 83.3% ± 5.3%, and for those with a first complete remission less than 18 months, it was 46.2% ± 10.2% (P = .0002.) There was a low incidence of neurologic toxicity and an unexpectedly high rate of allergic reactions to L-asparaginase. Five patients developed secondary malignancies: two with acute nonlymphoblastic leukemia during therapy, one with myelodysplasia after therapy, and two with brain tumors 1.5 to 2 years after cessation of therapy. Conclusion: For children with ALL and an isolated CNS relapse, treatment that delays definitive craniospinal irradiation by 6 months to allow for more intensive systemic and intrathecal chemotherapy results in better EFS than has been previously reported. Using this approach, the long-term prognosis for children with first complete remission ≥ 18 months is comparable to that at the time of original diagnosis of ALL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3745-3752
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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