One hundred patients with acute leukemia treated by chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and allogeneic marrow transplantation

ED Thomas, CD Buckner, M Banaji, RA Clift, A Fefer, N Flournoy, BW Goodell, RO Hickman, KG Lerner, PE Neiman, GE Sale, JE Sanders, J Singer, M Stevens, R Storb, PL Weiden


One hundred patients, 54 with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and 46 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), considered to be in the end stages of their disease, after combination chemotherapy were treated by marrow transplantation. All patients were given a marrow graft from an HLA-identical sibling after receiving 1000-rad total body irradiation (TBI). One group of 43 patients was given cyclophosphamide (CY), 60 mg/kg on each of 2 days, 5 and 4 days before TBI. In a second group of 31 patients, additional chemotherapy was given before CY and TBI. In a third group of 19 patients, BCNU was given before CY and TBI. A fourth group of 7 patients received other chemotherapy regimens before TBI. Six patients died 3–17 days after marrow infusion without evidence of engraftment. Ninety-four patients were engrafted and only one patient rejected the graft. Thirteen patients are alive with a marrow graft, on no maintenance antileukemic therapy, and without recurrent leukemia 1–4 1/2 yr after transplantation. Three have chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Four patients are alive 1 1/2 - 3 1/2 yr after grafting but have had a relapse of their leukemia. Of 93 evaluable patients, 19 did not develop GVHD and 24 developed very mild GVHD. Fifty patients developed moderate to severe GVHD, and 40 of these were treated with antithymocyte globulin. Interstitial pneumonia occurred in 54 patients and was the primary cause of death in 34. Interstitial pneumonia often occurred in association with GVHD and the most common etiologic agent was cytomegalovirus. A total of 31 patients have had a relapse of leukemia. There was no definite correlation between relapse of leukemia and the presence or absence of GVHD. The relapse rate appeared to be relatively constant over the first 2 yr and was extremely low after that time. Neither survival nor leukemic relapse appeared to be influenced by the type of leukemia nor by the preparative chemotherapy regimen given before TBI. Patients in fair clinical condition at the time of transplantation showed significantly longer survival times than patients in poor condition (p = 0.001). This observation, coupled with the observation that some patients may be cured of their disease, indicates that marrow transplantation should now be undertaken earlier in the management of patients with acute leukemia who have an HLA- matched sibling marrow donor.