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Chemotherapy proves life-saving for some leukemia patients who fail induction therapy
Date:4/11/2012

ional collaborative analysis. St. Jude patients were part of the study. Researchers tracked 1,041 patients whose cancer did not go into remission following four to six weeks of induction therapy.

Historically, the prognosis has been grim for patients who fail induction therapy. While overall long-term survival for childhood ALL patients climbed to 80 percent during the 15 years covered in this study, it was just 32 percent for patients who did not enter remission after the first intense weeks of treatment. The definition of induction failure differed slightly among the clinical trials included in this analysis.

The study found long-term survival rates of 72 percent among some young patients with B-lineage ALL treated with additional chemotherapy following induction therapy failure. The patients were ages 1 through 5 when their cancer was found and many had more than 50 chromosomes in their leukemia cells, rather than the normal number of 46 chromosomes. Together they accounted for about 25 percent of patients whose disease did not go into remission following induction therapy.

The children who benefited from additional chemotherapy also had no other markers of high risk, including high white blood cell counts or chromosomal rearrangements involving the MLL gene.

The study found transplants remain the best hope for many other young ALL patients who fail induction therapy. The patients included those whose cancer originated in white blood cells known as T cells. T cell ALL accounts for 12 to 15 percent of childhood ALL, but about 38 percent of patients in this study. The transplants involve killing the patient's own diseased bone marrow and replacing it with blood-producing stem cells from a genetically matched donor. The procedure leaves patients at risk for a variety of immediate and chronic health problems.

Patients with a chromosomal rearrangement known as the Philadelphia chromosome were not included in the analysis
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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