Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Treatment of adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia with intensive cyclical chemotherapy: a follow-up report

  1. CA Linker,
  2. LJ Levitt,
  3. M O'Donnell,
  4. SJ Forman, and
  5. CA Ries
  1. Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Abstract

We treated 109 patients with adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosed by histochemical and immunologic techniques. Patients were excluded only for age greater than 50 years and Burkitt's leukemia. Treatment included a four-drug remission induction phase followed by alternating cycles of noncrossresistant chemotherapy and prolonged oral maintenance therapy. Eighty-eight percent of patients entered complete remission. With a median follow-up of 77 months (range, 48 to 111 months), 42% +/- 6% (SEM) of patients achieving remission are projected to remain disease-free at 5 years, and disease-free survival for all patients entered on study is 35% +/- 5%. Failure to achieve remission within the first 4 weeks of therapy and the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome are associated with a 100% risk of relapse. Remission patients with neither of these adverse features have a 48% +/- 6% probability of remaining in continuous remission for 5 years. Patients with T-cell phenotype have a favorable prognosis with 59% +/- 13% of patients achieving remission remaining disease-free compared with 31% +/- 7% of CALLA-positive patients. Intensive chemotherapy may produce prolonged disease-free survival in a sizable fraction of adults with ALL. Improved therapy is needed, especially for patients with adverse prognostic features.