J. Clin. Oncol., 2012 Jul 1;30(19):2384-92.
PMID: 22614971 DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2011.40.5936


PURPOSE: To improve treatment outcome for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we designed the Malaysia-Singapore ALL 2003 study with treatment stratification based on presenting clinical and genetic features and minimal residual disease (MRD) levels measured by polymerase chain reaction targeting a single antigen-receptor gene rearrangement.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Five hundred fifty-six patients received risk-adapted therapy with a modified Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster-ALL treatment. High-risk ALL was defined by MRD ≥ 1 × 10(-3) at week 12 and/or poor prednisolone response, BCR-ABL1, MLL gene rearrangements, hypodiploid less than 45 chromosomes, or induction failure; standard-risk ALL was defined by MRD ≤ 1 × 10(-4) at weeks 5 and 12 and no extramedullary involvement or high-risk features. Intermediate-risk ALL included all remaining patients.
RESULTS: Patients who lacked high-risk presenting features (85.7%) received remission induction therapy with dexamethasone, vincristine, and asparaginase, without anthracyclines. Six-year event-free survival (EFS) was 80.6% ± 3.5%; overall survival was 88.4% ± 3.1%. Standard-risk patients (n = 172; 31%) received significantly deintensified subsequent therapy without compromising EFS (93.2% ± 4.1%). High-risk patients (n = 101; 18%) had the worst EFS (51.8% ± 10%); EFS was 83.6% ± 4.9% in intermediate-risk patients (n = 283; 51%).
CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate significant progress over previous trials in the region. Three-drug remission-induction therapy combined with MRD-based risk stratification to identify poor responders is an effective strategy for childhood ALL.

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