Long-term follow-up of the United Kingdom Medical Research Council protocols for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, 1980-1997. Medical Research Council Childhood Leukaemia Working Party.
Eden OB., Harrison G., Richards S., Lilleyman JS., Bailey CC., Chessells JM., Hann IM., Hill FG., Gibson BE.
Results of three consecutive completed UK trials (1980-1997) for childhood lymphoblastic leukaemia are presented. National accrual has progressively increased so that over 90% of all the country's ALL cases were treated on the latest trial reported, UKALLXI. From 1980 to 1990, event-free and overall survival progressively improved, following adoption of an American therapy template and use of two post-remission intensification modules. Since 1990 despite demonstration of the benefit of a third intensification module overall event-free survival (EFS) has not improved further. Survival remains high due to a good retrieval rate especially for those relapsing off treatment after receipt of two intensification pulses. Possible reasons for the plateau in event-free survival (including type and dose of induction steroid, dropping of induction anthracycline, type and dose of asparaginase, gaps early in therapy following intensification, and overall lack of compliance in maintenance) are being explored in the latest protocol ALL '97. Cranial irradiation had been successfully replaced by a long course of intrathecal methotrexate injections for the majority of patients. Age (<1 year >10 years) sex (male) and white count >50 x 10(9)/l plus slow initial bone marrow clearance were consistently the most important independent prognostic indicators during this time period. Rome/NCI criteria accurately predict standard and high-risk groups for B cell lineage, but not consistently for T cell disease. This international collaborative venture might help us to define those truly at highest risk, and how we can optimise therapy for specific subgroups including T-ALL and those with unfavourable cytogenetics.