(Chemotherapy Advisor) — A study recently published in the March 12th issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology demonstrates improved survival rates in children and adolescents diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) during the years 1990 to 2005. The published report describes the 15-year study which examined population-based improvements in survival and the impact of clinical covariates on outcome among children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) enrolled onto Children’s Oncology Group (COG) clinical trials. Enrollees in this study totaled 21,626 persons age 0 to 22 years, which represented 55.8% of ALL cases estimated to occur among US persons younger than age 20 years during the period.

The investigators reported that five-year survival rates for ALL increased from 83.7% in 1990-1994 to 90.4% in 2000-2005 (P < .001), with significant improvements in survival in all age subgroups (except for infants age ≤ 1 year), including males and females; those age 1 to 9 years, 10-plus years, or 15-plus years; in whites, blacks, and other races; in Hispanics, non-Hispanics, and patients of unknown ethnicity; in those with B-cell or T-cell immunophenotype; and in those with National Cancer Institute (NCI) standard- or high-risk clinical features.

The authors concluded: “This study documents ongoing survival improvements for children and adolescents with ALL. Thirty-six percent of deaths occurred among children with NCI standard-risk features emphasizing that efforts to further improve survival must be directed at both high-risk subsets and at those children predicted to have an excellent chance for cure.”

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