Secondary brain tumors in children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Andrew W. Walter, Michael L. Hancock, Ching Hon Pui, Melissa M. Hudson, Judith S. Ochs, Gaston K. Rivera, Charles B. Pratt, James M. Boyett, Larry E. Kun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the incidence of and potential risk factors for second malignant neoplasms of the brain following treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Patients and Methods: The study population consisted of 1,612 consecutively enrolled protocol patients treated on sequential institutional protocols for newly diagnosed ALL. at St Jude Children's Research Hospital (SJCRH) between 1967 and 1988. The median follow-up duration is 15.9 years (range, 5.5 to 29.9 y). Results: The cumulative incidence of brain tumors at 20 years is 1.39% (95% confidence interval [Cl], 0.63% to 2.15%). Twenty-two brain tumors (10 high-grade gliomas, one low-grade glioma, and 11 meningiomas) were diagnosed among 21 patients after a median latency of 12.6 years (high-grade gliomas, 9.1 years; meningiomas, 19 years). Tumor type was linked to outcome, with patients who developed high-grade tumors doing poorly and those who developed low-grade tumors doing well. Risk factors for developing any secondary brain tumor included the presence of CNS leukemia at diagnosis, treatment on total X therapy, and the use of cranial irradiation, which was dose-dependent. Age less than 6 years was associated with an increased risk of developing a high- grade glioma. Conclusion: This single-institution study, with a high rate of long-term data capture, demonstrated that brain tumors are a rare, late complication of therapy for ALL. We report many more low-grade tumors than others probably because of exhaustive long-term follow-up evaluation. The importance of limiting cranial radiation is underscored by the dose-dependent tumorigenic effect of radiation therapy seen in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3761-3767
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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