Intensification of treatment and survival in all children with lymphoblastic leukaemia: results of UK Medical Research Council trial UKALL X. Medical Research Council Working Party on Childhood Leukaemia.
Chessells JM., Bailey C., Richards SM.
The UK Medical Research Council trial MRC UKALL X was designed to investigate the benefit of one or two courses of additional intensification therapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia receiving standard treatment. From 1985 to 1990 1612 children, comprising more than 90% of eligible cases in the UK, were treated with intensive induction therapy, central nervous system directed therapy with cranial irradiation and intrathecal methotrexate, and continuing treatment for 2 years. 1171 children were randomised to receive additional intensification therapy at 5 weeks, 20 weeks, both, or neither. At follow-up of at least 3 years disease-free survival for all children at 5 years was 62% (95% confidence interval [Cl] 60.0-64.4), a significant improvement over the 56% (53.0-59.6) found in the preceding MRC UKALL trial. The 5-year disease-free survival was 71% (65.5-76.1) for children randomised to two blocks of intensification therapy, this being significantly better than the 62% (56.6-68.0), 61% (55.7-67.1), and 57% (50.9-62.7) rates for the groups randomised to one intensification block at 5 weeks, one at 20 weeks, and no intensification, respectively. The benefits of intensification therapy were seen irrespective of clinical factors known to influence outcome such as age, sex, and initial leucocyte count. We conclude that the addition of two courses of intensification therapy has produced a 14% improvement in disease-free survival and an 11% improvement in overall survival for the randomised patients. This additional treatment is of benefit to all children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, even those traditionally deemed at lower risk of relapse.