Leukemia, Chronic Myelogenous (CML)

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    Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Learn about chronic myelogenous leukemia and find information on how we support and care for children and teens with CML before, during, and after treatment.

The Hematologic Malignancy Center at Dana-Farber Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is one of the top pediatric leukemia and lymphoma treatment centers in the world. In addition to treating lymphomas and leukemias, our center treats the primary types of histiocytosis.

All members of our treatment team — including oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, stem cell transplant physicians and oncology nurses — have specific expertise in pediatric hematologic malignancies. Many of our specialists are recognized as national leaders in their field.

Our clinical research program enables us to offer innovative clinical trials for children of all ages and with many forms of hematologic malignancies. Our clinical team works closely with researchers to develop new treatments based on the latest scientific discoveries.

Our services include:

  • expert hematopathologic evaluation using advanced diagnostic techniques
  • an individualized treatment plan tailored to your child's needs
  • an internationally recognized pediatric stem cell transplant program
  • innovative treatment options for all types of pediatric hematologic malignancies

Additional support services for our patients include:

  • psychologists and social workers for all patients, siblings and parents
  • complementary therapies consultation and treatment integrated into the comprehensive care plan
  • the services of other specialists as needed, including experts in cardiology, pulmonary, endocrinology, reproductive and gynecologic services, neurology, anesthesia, dermatology, nutrition, and physical therapy
  • a survivorship clinic that offers clinical and support resources to address the medical and psychosocial challenges of being a cancer survivor.

Learn more about our Hematologic Malignancy Center.

Information for: Patients | Healthcare Professionals

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Overview

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is blood cancer. It develops in the bone marrow—the soft, spongy center of the long bones that produces the three major blood cells.

What is chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)?

In chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the white blood cells that are affected are a specific kind called myeloid cells, or “myeloblasts.”

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center approaches CML

Children with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are treated through the Leukemia Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. We utilize the expertise of both Boston Children's Hospital, consistently ranked one of the top children's hospital in the country, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a nationally recognized leader in cancer care and a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s has played a key role in refining treatment for childhood leukemia, and we continue to be a world-wide leader in leukemia clinical trials designed to increase cure rates, decrease treatment-related side effects and improve care for long-term survivors.

We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with CML. Is it dangerous? Will it affect my child long-term? What do we do next? We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and our experts can explain your child’s condition fully.

Our multidisciplinary Leukemia Program ensures in-depth discussion of each case and personalized treatment plans for every patient. Your child will receive integrated care from a team that includes the following specialists:

  • pediatric oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists
     
  • pediatric experts from every medical subspecialty, such as orthopedics, ophthalmology, physical therapy and radiology, among other
     
  • highly skilled and experienced pediatric oncology nurse
     
  • child life specialists, psychologists, social workers and resource specialists who provide supportive care before, during and after treatment
     

In addition, our cancer center offers the following services:

  • Expert diagnosis by pathologists using advanced molecular diagnostic testing to identify your child’s type of tumor. Knowing the molecular composition of a tumor helps predict which treatments are more likely to work.
     
  • Access to unique Phase I clinical trials, from our own investigators, and from the Children’s Oncology Group.
     
  • Expert surgical care from experienced pediatric surgeons, several of whom developed approaches used at centers across the country.
     
  • Support services to address all of your child and family’s needs.
     
  • A weekly survivorship clinic, which set the national standard for childhood cancer survivorship care. This weekly clinic offers ongoing care to manage late effects caused by your child’s cancer or the treatment they received.

In Depth

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is blood cancer. It develops in the bone marrow—the soft, spongy center of the long bones that produces the three major blood cells:

  • white blood cells (fight infection)
  • red blood cells (carry oxygen)
  • platelets (help blood clot and stop bleeding)

Normal, healthy cells only reproduce when there is enough space for them to fit, and the body regulates this by sending signals so the cells know when to stop. When your child has leukemia, two things happen:

  1. His bone marrow makes white blood cells that are abnormal.
  2. These abnormal cells do not respond to the signals to stop, and keep reproducing regardless of space available.

Then:
3. The abnormal/immature white cells, called “blasts,” reproduce quickly, and—unlike normal white blood cells—do not help fight infection.
4. When blasts begin to crowd out the healthy cells in the bone marrow, your child begins to experience symptoms of leukemia (e.g., infections, anemia, bleeding).

What is chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)?

In chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the white blood cells that are affected are a specific kind called myeloid cells, or “myeloblasts.”

  • CML is uncommon in children.
  • CML can occur over a period of months or years.

As you read further below, you will find general information about CML. If you would like to view summary information about cancer first, see the cancer overview.

How common is leukemia? Who develops it?

Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in childhood.  

  • It affects approximately 3,000 children each year in the US, accounting for about 30 percent of childhood cancers.
     
  • Leukemia can occur at any age, although it is most commonly seen in children between 2 and 6 years of age.
     
  • The disease occurs slightly more frequently in males than in females, and more commonly seen in Caucasian children than in children of other races.
What causes CML?

In nearly all cases, it’s not known what causes leukemia. In the majority of childhood leukemias, gene mutations and chromosome abnormalities in the leukemia cells occur sporadically (by chance). The abnormalities found in leukemia cells are not found in the other cells of the body, but if your child has CML, he may have other chromosome abnormalities.

CML is often accompanied by a specific type of chromosome rearrangement:

  1. Part of chromosome #9 breaks off and attaches itself to chromosome #22.
  2. There is an exchange of genetic material between these two chromosomes.
  3. This rearrangement changes the position and functions of certain genes, which results in uncontrolled cell growth.
Can damage to the child’s immune system lead to leukemia?

Your child’s immune system plays an important role in protecting his body from diseases, and possibly cancer. This means that an alteration or defect in his immune system may increase the risk for developing leukemia.

Factors such as exposure to certain viruses, environmental factors, chemical exposures and various infections have been associated with damage to the immune system, but none of these factors has been definitively linked as a cause of childhood leukemia. 

What are the different types of leukemia?

In addition to chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), there are two other main types of leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

How do myelogenous leukemias differ from lymphoblastic leukemia?

A different type of white blood cell is affected. In myelogenous leukemias (both CML and AML) it’s the granulocyte; in lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), it’s another kind called a lymphocyte. In all cases—CML, AML and ALL—the cells become abnormal, reproduce too quickly, ignore orders to stop, and crowd out healthy blood cells.

What’s the difference between CML and AML?

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML):  

  • May also be called granulocytic, myelocytic, myeloblastic, or myeloid leukemia
  • It accounts for about 20 percent of the childhood leukemias.
  • With AML, these cells are most commonly found in the bone marrow and blood, but can also appear in the spinal fluid and the skin.
  • Rarely, they can form into solid tumors called chloromas.
  • The symptoms associated with AML usually occur over a short period of days to weeks.
What are the symptoms of CML?

With CML, there are usually no symptoms in the early stages. When then do occur, your child may experience symptoms over a period of months or even years. Often, CML may be discovered when your child is having a routine blood test for other reasons.

Because leukemia is cancer of the blood-forming bone marrow, the initial symptoms are often related to abnormal bone marrow function. The bone marrow is responsible for storing and producing about 95 percent of the body's blood cells, including the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. While each child may experience symptoms of CML differently, some of the most common include:

  • general fatigue or weakness
  • recurrent infections - Although there may be an unusually high number of white blood cells on your child’s blood count, these white blood cells are immature and do not fight infection. Your child may have had several viral or bacterial infections over the past few weeks, and may show symptoms of an infection such as fever, runny nose and cough.
  • bone and joint pain – Your child may also experience pain in his bones and joints. This pain is usually a result of the bone marrow being overcrowded and "full."
  • abdominal pain – stomach aches may also be a symptom of leukemia. Leukemia cells can collect in your child’s kidney, liver and, particularly with CML, the spleen, causing enlargement of these organs. Pain in the abdomen may cause your child lose his appetite, and lose weight.
  • swollen lymph nodes - your child may also have swelling in the lymph nodes under the arms, in the groin, chest and in the neck. Leukemia cells may collect in the nodes, causing swelling.

It is important to understand that the symptoms of leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. These are common symptoms of the disease, but do not include all possible symptoms. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Tests

How is CML diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, some diagnostic tests may include: 

  • bone marrow aspiration and biopsy - Marrow may be removed by aspiration or a needle biopsy under local anesthesia. In aspiration biopsy, a fluid specimen is removed from the bone marrow. In a needle biopsy, marrow cells (not fluid) are removed. These methods are often used together.
  • lymph node biopsy - surgical removal of lymph node tissue to examine under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer cells
     
  • complete blood count (CBC) - a measurement of size, number, and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of your child’s blood
  • additional blood tests - may include blood chemistries, evaluation of liver and kidney functions and genetic studies
  • spinal tap/lumbar puncture - A special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in your child’s spinal canal and brain can then be measured. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (called CSF—the fluid that bathes your child’s brain and spinal cord) can be removed and tested for infection or other problems.

Treatment and care

What is the treatment for CML?

At Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we know how difficult a diagnosis of CML can be, both for your child and for your whole family. That’s why our physicians are focused on family-centered care: From your first visit, you’ll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family’s physical and psychosocial needs. We’ll work with you to create a care plan that’s best for your child.

Treatment components may include the following (alone or in combination):

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce.

How is chemotherapy given?
Different chemotherapies may be given: 

  • as a pill to swallow
  • as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
  • intravenously (directly to the bloodstream, also called IV)
  • intrathecally(directly into the spinal column with a needle)

How is chemotherapy used?
This depends on many factors. Some things to keep in mind:

  • A number of combinations of chemotherapy drugs are currently being used to stabilize and, in some cases, to shrink the size of the tumor.
  • Depending on the type of cancer, chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order.
  • Chemotherapy may be used alone for some types of cancer, or in conjunction with other therapy such as radiation or surgery.

Does chemotherapy come with bad side effects?
While chemotherapy can be quite effective, the agents do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help your child, family and your child’s health care team prepare for and sometimes prevent these symptoms from occurring.

Intrathecal medications/chemotherapy

These are medications inserted through a needle into your child’s spinal cord into the area called the subarachnoid space.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Stem cell transplant

Stem cell transplant involves stem cells, a specific type of cell from which all blood cells develop. They can develop into red blood cells to carry oxygen, white blood cells to fight disease and infection, and platelets to aid in blood clotting. Stem cells are found primarily in the bone marrow, but some also circulate in the blood stream.

When your child’s stem cells are replaced with those of a healthy and compatible donor, it is called allogeneic transplantation:

  1. Treatment may begin with high-dose chemotherapy (perhaps combined with radiation therapy) to destroy all of the bone marrow, stem cells and cancerous cells, in your child’s body.
  2. Then, healthy stem cells from another person (whose tissue must be the same, or almost the same as your child’s) are used to help restore your child’s normal blood production.
Biological therapy

Biological therapy refers to a wide range of substances that may be able to involve the body's own immune system to fight cancer or lessen harmful side effects of some treatments.

Other medications

Other medications may be given to prevent or treat damage to other systems of your child’s body caused by leukemia treatment, or for nausea and side effects of treatment.

Blood transfusions

A blood transfusion could replace or supplement your child’s red blood cells and platelets.

Antibiotics

Your child may be given antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat infections.

Continuous follow-up care

Your child’s health will be closely monitored to determine response to treatment, detect recurrent disease and manage late effects of treatment.

What are the various stages of CML?

There are various stages in the treatment of CML, including the following:

  • chronic phase -There may be no symptoms of leukemia, but blast cells are discovered in the blood and bone marrow. This phase can last several months to several years.
     
  • accelerated phase - an increased number of blast cells are found in the blood and marrow and there is evidence normal cells are decreasing
     
  • blastic phase - also called a "blast crisis," during this phase more than 30 percent of bone marrow and blood cells are blast cells. Cancerous tumors may form in the bone or lymph nodes, collections of small organs found throughout the lymph system.

What is the long-term outlook for a child with CML?

Your child’s prognosis greatly depends on:

  • the extent of the disease
  • the cancer’s response to treatment
  • genetic abnormalities of the leukemia
  • his age and overall health
  • his tolerance of specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • new developments in treatment

Relapse can occur during any stage of treatment, even with aggressive therapy, or may occur months or years after treatment has ended.

As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis, and continuous follow-up care is essential. New methods are continually being discovered to improve treatment and decrease side effects of the treatment for the disease.

Research and innovations

What is the latest research on CML?
  • A variety of chemotherapeutic regimens have been evaluated in the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas.
    • While studies in adults have suggested that procarbazine, vincristine and CCNU (PVC) produce modest responses in grade III gliomas, this has not been demonstrated for pediatric cases or for grade IV tumors.
    • Several other regimens have also produced responses, but none has improved survival.
    • increased doses of chemotherapy in the setting of autologous bone marrow transplant have also not produced notable advantage.
     
  • In the area of stem cell transplantation, the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Transplant Program is one of only eight institutions around the country that are investigating the use of umbilical cord transplantation.
  • Also under study is a novel method for preventing graft versus host disease, a serious complication that occurs when transplanted cells do not recognize the tissues and organs of the recipient's body and react against the recipient's tissue.

The result of this treatment approach, if it continues to be as successful, will be that the degree of match between donor and the recipient will not need to be particularly close, greatly increasing the pool of potential donors for each patient. This could also eliminate the need for long-term drug therapy traditionally needed to treat graft versus host disease.

Research and clinical trials

There are many ways in which your child might benefit from our medical research program. Our doctors and scientists have made many breakthrough discoveries about diseases like polio and leukemia; our ongoing innovative research continues to push the boundaries of the way pediatric medicine is practiced.

It’s possible that your child will be eligible to participate in one of our current clinical trials. These studies are useful for a multitude of reasons:

  • Some trials are designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular drug, treatment or therapy on a specific disease; others help doctors to better understand how and why certain conditions occur.
  • We have hundreds of clinical trials underway. Of course, your motives as a parent needn’t be entirely altruistic — you’ll naturally want to know how taking part in a trial can immediately benefit your child. If your child’s physician recommends participation in one of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's clinical trials, that likely means that your child’s physician believes that the plan outlined in that trial represents the absolute best, latest care your child can possibly receive.
  • And participation in any clinical trial is completely voluntary: We will take care to fully explain all elements of the treatment plan prior to the start of the trial, and you may remove your child from the medical study at any time.

General Information

Fortunately, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975.[1] Children and adolescents with cancer should be referred to medical centers that have a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, radiation oncologists, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life. (Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)

Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of children with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics.[2] At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer.[1] Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%. For acute myeloid leukemia, the 5-year survival rate increased over the same time from less than 20% to 68% for children younger than 15 years and from less than 20% to 57% for adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.[1] Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close follow-up because cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)

Myeloid Leukemias in Children

Approximately 20% of childhood leukemias are of myeloid origin and they represent a spectrum of hematopoietic malignancies.[3] The majority of myeloid leukemias are acute, and the remainder include chronic and/or subacute myeloproliferative disorders such as chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). Myelodysplastic syndromes occur much less frequently in children than in adults and almost invariably represent clonal, preleukemic conditions.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is defined as a clonal disorder caused by malignant transformation of a bone marrow–derived, self-renewing stem cell or progenitor, which demonstrates a decreased rate of self-destruction as well as aberrant, and usually limited, differentiation capacity. These events lead to increased accumulation in the bone marrow and other organs by these malignant myeloid cells. To be called acute, the bone marrow usually must include greater than 20% leukemic blasts, with some exceptions as noted in subsequent sections.

CML represents the most common of the chronic myeloproliferative disorders in childhood, although it accounts for only 10% to 15% of childhood myeloid leukemia.[3] Although CML has been diagnosed in very young children, most patients are aged 6 years and older. CML is a clonal panmyelopathy that involves all hematopoietic cell lineages. While the white blood cell (WBC) count can be extremely elevated, the bone marrow does not show increased numbers of leukemic blasts during the chronic phase of this disease. CML is nearly always characterized by the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome, a translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 (i.e., t(9;22)) resulting in fusion of the BCR and ABL genes. Other chronic myeloproliferative syndromes, such as polycythemia vera and essential thrombocytosis, are extremely rare in children.

JMML represents the most common myeloproliferative syndrome observed in young children. JMML occurs at a median age of 1.8 years and characteristically presents with hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, fever, and skin rash along with an elevated WBC count and increased circulating monocytes.[4] In addition, patients often have an elevated hemoglobin F, hypersensitivity of the leukemic cells to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), monosomy 7, and leukemia cell mutations in a gene involved in RAS pathway signaling (e.g., NF1, KRAS/NRAS, PTPN11, or CBL).[4][5]

The transient myeloproliferative disorder (TMD) (also termed transient leukemia) observed in infants with Down syndrome represents a clonal expansion of myeloblasts that can be difficult to distinguish from AML. Most importantly, TMD spontaneously regresses in most cases within the first 3 months of life. TMD blasts most commonly have megakaryoblastic differentiation characteristics and distinctive mutations involving the GATA1 gene.[6][7] TMD may occur in phenotypically normal infants with genetic mosaicism in the bone marrow for trisomy 21. While TMD is generally not characterized by cytogenetic abnormalities other than trisomy 21, the presence of additional cytogenetic findings may predict an increased risk for developing subsequent AML.[8] Approximately 20% of infants with Down syndrome and TMD eventually develop AML, with most cases diagnosed within the first 3 years of life.[7][8] Early death from TMD-related complications occurs in 10% to 20% of affected children.[8][9] Infants with progressive organomegaly, visceral effusions, and laboratory evidence of progressive liver dysfunction are at a particularly high risk for early mortality.[8]

The myelodysplastic syndromes in children represent a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis, impaired maturation of myeloid progenitors with dysplastic morphologic features, and cytopenias. Although the majority of patients have hypercellular bone marrows without increased numbers of leukemic blasts, some patients may present with very hypocellular bone marrow, making the distinction between severe aplastic anemia and low-blast count AML difficult.

There are genetic risks associated with the development of AML. There is a high concordance rate of AML in identical twins; however, this is not believed to be related to genetic risk, but rather to shared circulation and the inability of one twin to reject leukemic cells from the other twin during fetal development.[10][11][12] There is an estimated twofold to fourfold risk of fraternal twins both developing leukemia up to about age 6 years, after which the risk is not significantly greater than that of the general population.[13][14] The development of AML has also been associated with a variety of predisposition syndromes that result from chromosomal imbalances or instabilities, defects in DNA repair, altered cytokine receptor or signal transduction pathway activation, as well as altered protein synthesis.[15]

Inherited and Acquired Genetic Syndromes Associated with Myeloid Malignancies

  • Inherited syndromes
    • Chromosomal imbalances:
      • Down syndrome.
      • Familial monosomy 7.
    • Chromosomal instability syndromes:
      • Fanconi anemia.
      • Dyskeratosis congenita.
      • Bloom syndrome.
    • Syndromes of growth and cell survival signaling pathway defects:
      • Neurofibromatosis type 1 (particularly JMML development).
      • Noonan syndrome (particularly JMML development).
      • Severe congenital neutropenia (Kostmann syndrome).
      • Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.
      • Diamond-Blackfan anemia.
      • Congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia.
      • CBL germline syndrome (particularly in JMML).
  • Acquired syndromes
    • Severe aplastic anemia.
    • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.
    • Amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia.
    • Acquired monosomy 7.
  • Familial myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and AML syndromes[16]
    • Familial platelet disorder with a propensity to develop AML (associated with germline RUNX1 mutations).
    • Familial MDS and AML syndromes with germline GATA2 mutations.
    • Familial MDS and AML syndromes with germline CEBPA mutations.
    • Telomere biology disorders due to a mutation in TERC or TERT (i.e., occult dyskeratosis congenita).

Nonsyndromic genetic susceptibility to AML is also being studied. For example, homozygosity for a specific IKZF1 polymorphism has been associated with an increased risk of infant AML.[17]

References:

  1. Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014.

  2. Guidelines for the pediatric cancer center and role of such centers in diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics Section Statement Section on Hematology/Oncology. Pediatrics 99 (1): 139-41, 1997.

  3. Smith MA, Ries LA, Gurney JG, et al.: Leukemia. In: Ries LA, Smith MA, Gurney JG, et al., eds.: Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER Program 1975-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, 1999. NIH Pub.No. 99-4649., pp 17-34. Also available online. Last accessed April 04, 2014.

  4. Niemeyer CM, Arico M, Basso G, et al.: Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in childhood: a retrospective analysis of 110 cases. European Working Group on Myelodysplastic Syndromes in Childhood (EWOG-MDS) Blood 89 (10): 3534-43, 1997.

  5. Loh ML: Recent advances in the pathogenesis and treatment of juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia. Br J Haematol 152 (6): 677-87, 2011.

  6. Hitzler JK, Cheung J, Li Y, et al.: GATA1 mutations in transient leukemia and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia of Down syndrome. Blood 101 (11): 4301-4, 2003.

  7. Mundschau G, Gurbuxani S, Gamis AS, et al.: Mutagenesis of GATA1 is an initiating event in Down syndrome leukemogenesis. Blood 101 (11): 4298-300, 2003.

  8. Massey GV, Zipursky A, Chang MN, et al.: A prospective study of the natural history of transient leukemia (TL) in neonates with Down syndrome (DS): Children's Oncology Group (COG) study POG-9481. Blood 107 (12): 4606-13, 2006.

  9. Homans AC, Verissimo AM, Vlacha V: Transient abnormal myelopoiesis of infancy associated with trisomy 21. Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 15 (4): 392-9, 1993.

  10. Zuelzer WW, Cox DE: Genetic aspects of leukemia. Semin Hematol 6 (3): 228-49, 1969.

  11. Miller RW: Persons with exceptionally high risk of leukemia. Cancer Res 27 (12): 2420-3, 1967.

  12. Inskip PD, Harvey EB, Boice JD Jr, et al.: Incidence of childhood cancer in twins. Cancer Causes Control 2 (5): 315-24, 1991.

  13. Kurita S, Kamei Y, Ota K: Genetic studies on familial leukemia. Cancer 34 (4): 1098-101, 1974.

  14. Greaves M: Pre-natal origins of childhood leukemia. Rev Clin Exp Hematol 7 (3): 233-45, 2003.

  15. Puumala SE, Ross JA, Aplenc R, et al.: Epidemiology of childhood acute myeloid leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60 (5): 728-33, 2013.

  16. West AH, Godley LA, Churpek JE: Familial myelodysplastic syndrome/acute leukemia syndromes: a review and utility for translational investigations. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1310: 111-8, 2014.

  17. Ross JA, Linabery AM, Blommer CN, et al.: Genetic variants modify susceptibility to leukemia in infants: a Children's Oncology Group report. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60 (1): 31-4, 2013.

Classification of Pediatric Myeloid Malignancies

French-American-British (FAB) Classification for Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia

The first comprehensive morphologic-histochemical classification system for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) was developed by the FAB Cooperative Group.[1][2][3][4][5] This classification system, which has been replaced by the World Health Organization (WHO) system described below, categorized AML into the following major subtypes primarily based on morphology and immunohistochemical detection of lineage markers:

  • M0: Acute myeloblastic leukemia without differentiation.[6][7] M0 AML, also referred to as minimally differentiated AML, does not express myeloperoxidase (MPO) at the light microscopy level, but may show characteristic granules by electron microscopy. M0 AML can be defined by expression of cluster determinant (CD) markers such as CD13, CD33, and CD117 (c-KIT) in the absence of lymphoid differentiation.
  • M1: Acute myeloblastic leukemia with minimal differentiation but with the expression of MPO that is detected by immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry.
  • M2: Acute myeloblastic leukemia with differentiation.
  • M3: Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) hypergranular type. (Refer to the Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia section of this summary for more information on treatment options under clinical evaluation.)
  • M3v: APL, microgranular variant. Cytoplasm of promyelocytes demonstrates a fine granularity, and nuclei are often folded. Same clinical, cytogenetic, and therapeutic implications as FAB M3.
  • M4: Acute myelomonocytic leukemia (AMML).
  • M4Eo: AMML with eosinophilia (abnormal eosinophils with dysplastic basophilic granules).
  • M5: Acute monocytic leukemia (AMoL).
    • M5a: AMoL without differentiation (monoblastic).
    • M5b: AMoL with differentiation.
  • M6: Acute erythroid leukemia (AEL).
    • M6a: Erythroleukemia.
    • M6b: Pure erythroid leukemia (myeloblast component not apparent).
    • M6c: Presence of myeloblasts and proerythroblasts.
  • M7: Acute megakaryocytic leukemia (AMKL).

Other extremely rare subtypes of AML include acute eosinophilic leukemia and acute basophilic leukemia.

World Health Organization (WHO) Classification System

In 2001, the WHO proposed a new classification system that incorporated diagnostic cytogenetic information and more reliably correlated with outcome. In this classification, patients with t(8;21), inv(16), t(15;17), or MLL translocations, which collectively constituted nearly half of the cases of childhood AML, were classified as AML with recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities. This classification system also decreased the bone marrow percentage of leukemic blast requirement for the diagnosis of AML from 30% to 20%; an additional clarification was made so that patients with recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities did not need to meet the minimum blast requirement to be considered AML.[8][9][10]

In 2008, the WHO expanded the number of cytogenetic abnormalities linked to AML classification, and for the first time included specific gene mutations (CEBPA and NPM mutations) in its classification system.[11] Such a genetically based classification system links AML class with outcome and provides significant biologic and prognostic information. With new emerging technologies aimed at genetic, epigenetic, proteomic, and immunophenotypic classification, AML classification will likely evolve and provide informative prognostic and biologic guidelines to clinicians and researchers.

WHO classification of AML

  • AML with recurrent genetic abnormalities:
    • AML with t(8;21)(q22;q22), RUNX1-RUNX1T1(CBFA2-AML1-ETO).
    • AML with inv(16)(p13.1;q22) or t(16;16)(p13.1;q22), CBFB-MYH11.
    • APL with t(15;17)(q24;q21), PML-RARA.
    • AML with t(9;11)(p22;q23), MLLT3(AF9)-MLL.
    • AML with t(6;9)(p23;q34), DEK-NUP214.
    • AML with inv(3)(q21;q26.2) or t(3;3)(q21;q26.2), RPN1-EVI1.
    • AML (megakaryoblastic) with t(1;22)(p13;q13), RBM15-MKL1.
    • AML with mutated NPM1.
    • AML with mutated CEBPA.
  • AML with myelodysplasia-related features.
  • Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms.
  • AML, not otherwise specified:
    • AML with minimal differentiation.
    • AML without maturation.
    • AML with maturation.
    • Acute myelomonocytic leukemia.
    • Acute monoblastic and monocytic leukemia.
    • Acute erythroid leukemia.
    • Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia.
    • Acute basophilic leukemia.
    • Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis.
  • Myeloid sarcoma.
  • Myeloid proliferations related to Down syndrome:
    • Transient abnormal myelopoiesis.
    • Myeloid leukemia associated with Down syndrome.
  • Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm.

Histochemical Evaluation

The treatment for children with AML differs significantly from that for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). As a consequence, it is critical to distinguish AML from ALL. Special histochemical stains performed on bone marrow specimens of children with acute leukemia can be helpful to confirm their diagnosis, although such approaches have been mostly replaced by flow cytometric immunophenotyping. The stains most commonly used include myeloperoxidase, periodic acid-Schiff, Sudan Black B, and esterase. In most cases the staining pattern with these histochemical stains will distinguish AML from AMML and ALL (see below).

Table 1. Histochemical Staining Patternsa

M0

AML, APL (M1-M3)

AMML (M4)

AMoL (M5)

AEL (M6)

AMKL (M7)

ALL

Myeloperoxidase

-

+

+

-

-

-

-

Nonspecific esterases

Chloracetate

-

+

+

±

-

-

-

Alpha-naphthol acetate

-

-

+ b

+ b

-

± b

-

Sudan Black B

-

+

+

-

-

-

-

PAS

-

-

±

±

+

-

+

AEL = acute erythroid leukemia; ALL = acute lymphoblastic leukemia; AML = acute myeloid leukemia; AMKL = acute megakaryocytic leukemia; AMML = acute myelomonocytic leukemia; AMoL = acute monocytic leukemia; APL = acute promyelocytic leukemia; PAS = periodic acid-Schiff.

aRefer to the French-American-British (FAB) Classification for Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia section of this summary for more information about the morphologic-histochemical classification system for AML.

bThese reactions are inhibited by fluoride.

Immunophenotypic Evaluation

The use of monoclonal antibodies to determine cell-surface antigens of AML cells is helpful to reinforce the histologic diagnosis. Various lineage-specific monoclonal antibodies that detect antigens on AML cells should be used at the time of initial diagnostic workup, along with a battery of lineage-specific T-lymphocyte and B-lymphocyte markers to help distinguish AML from ALL and bilineal (as defined below) or biphenotypic leukemias. The expression of various cluster determinant (CD) proteins that are relatively lineage-specific for AML include CD33, CD13, CD14, CDw41 (or platelet antiglycoprotein IIb/IIIa), CD15, CD11B, CD36, and antiglycophorin A. Lineage-associated B-lymphocytic antigens CD10, CD19, CD20, CD22, and CD24 may be present in 10% to 20% of AMLs, but monoclonal surface immunoglobulin and cytoplasmic immunoglobulin heavy chains are usually absent; similarly, CD2, CD3, CD5, and CD7 lineage-associated T-lymphocytic antigens are present in 20% to 40% of AMLs.[12][13][14] The aberrant expression of lymphoid-associated antigens by AML cells is relatively common but generally has no prognostic significance.[12][13]

Immunophenotyping can also be helpful in distinguishing some FAB subtypes of AML. Testing for the presence of HLA-DR can be helpful in identifying APL. Overall, HLA-DR is expressed on 75% to 80% of AMLs but rarely expressed on APL. In addition, APL cases with PML-RARA were noted to express CD34/CD15 and demonstrate a heterogeneous pattern of CD13 expression.[15] Testing for the presence of glycoprotein Ib, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa, or Factor VIII antigen expression is helpful in making the diagnosis of M7 (megakaryocytic leukemia). Glycophorin expression is helpful in making the diagnosis of M6 (erythroid leukemia).[16]

Less than 5% of cases of acute leukemia in children are of ambiguous lineage, expressing features of both myeloid and lymphoid lineage.[17][18][19] These cases are distinct from ALL with myeloid coexpression in that the predominant lineage cannot be determined by immunophenotypic and histochemical studies. The definition of leukemia of ambiguous lineage varies among studies, although most investigators now use criteria established by the European Group for the Immunological Characterization of Leukemias (EGIL) or the more stringent WHO criteria.[20][21][22] In the WHO classification, the presence of MPO is required to establish myeloid lineage. This is not the case for the EGIL classification.

The WHO classification system is summarized in Table 2.[22][23]

Table 2. Acute Leukemias of Ambiguous Lineage According to the WHO Classification of Tumors of Hematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissuesa

Condition

Definition

Acute undifferentiated leukemia

Acute leukemia that does not express any marker considered specific for either lymphoid or myeloid lineage

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia with t(9;22)(q34;q11.2); BCR-ABL1

Acute leukemia meeting the diagnostic criteria for mixed phenotype acute leukemia in which the blasts also have the (9;22) translocation or the BCR-ABL1 rearrangement

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia with t(v;11q23); MLL rearranged

Acute leukemia meeting the diagnostic criteria for mixed phenotype acute leukemia in which the blasts also have a translocation involving the MLL gene

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, B/myeloid, NOS

Acute leukemia meeting the diagnostic criteria for assignment to both B and myeloid lineage, in which the blasts lack genetic abnormalities involving BCR-ABL1 or MLL

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, T/myeloid, NOS

Acute leukemia meeting the diagnostic criteria for assignment to both T and myeloid lineage, in which the blasts lack genetic abnormalities involving BCR-ABL1 or MLL

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, B/myeloid, NOS—rare types

Acute leukemia meeting the diagnostic criteria for assignment to both B- and T-lineage

Other ambiguous lineage leukemias

Natural killer cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma

NOS = not otherwise specified; WHO = World Health Organization.

aBéné MC: Biphenotypic, bilineal, ambiguous or mixed lineage: strange leukemias! Haematologica 94 (7): 891-3, 2009. [23] Obtained from Haematologica/the Hematology Journal website http://www.haematologica.org.

Leukemias of mixed phenotype comprise the following two groups of patients:

  1. Bilineal leukemias in which there are two distinct populations of cells, usually one lymphoid and one myeloid.
  2. Biphenotypic leukemias in which individual blast cells display features of both lymphoid and myeloid lineage.

Biphenotypic cases represent the majority of mixed phenotype leukemias.[17] B-myeloid biphenotypic leukemias lacking the TEL-AML1 fusion have a lower rate of complete remission and a significantly worse event-free survival (EFS) compared with patients with B-precursor ALL.[17] Some studies suggest that patients with biphenotypic leukemia may fare better with a lymphoid, as opposed to a myeloid, treatment regimen,[18][19][24] although the optimal treatment for patients remains unclear.

Cytogenetic Evaluation and Molecular Abnormalities

Chromosomal analyses of leukemia should be performed on children with AML because chromosomal abnormalities are important diagnostic and prognostic markers.[25][26][27][28][29][30] Clonal chromosomal abnormalities have been identified in the blasts of about 75% of children with AML and are useful in defining subtypes with particular characteristics (e.g., t(8;21), t(15;17), inv(16), 11q23 abnormalities, t(1;22)). Leukemias with the chromosomal abnormalities t(8;21) and inv(16) are called core-binding factor leukemias; core-binding factor (a transcription factor involved in hematopoietic stem cell differentiation) is disrupted by each of these abnormalities.

Molecular probes and newer cytogenetic techniques (e.g., fluorescence in situ hybridization [FISH]) can detect cryptic abnormalities that were not evident by standard cytogenetic banding studies.[31] This is clinically important when optimal therapy differs, as in APL. Use of these techniques can identify cases of APL when the diagnosis is suspected but the t(15;17) is not identified by routine cytogenetic evaluation. The presence of the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome in patients with AML most likely represents chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that has transformed to AML rather than de novo AML. Molecular methods are also being used to identify recurring gene mutations in adults and children with AML, and as described below, some of these recurring mutations have prognostic significance.

A unifying concept for the role of specific mutations in AML is that mutations that promote proliferation (Type I) and mutations that block normal myeloid development (Type II) are required for full conversion of hematopoietic stem/precursor cells to malignancy.[32][33] Support for this conceptual construct comes from the observation that there is generally mutual exclusivity within each type of mutation, such that a single Type I and a single Type II mutation are present within each case. Further support comes from genetically engineered models of AML for which cooperative events rather than single mutations are required for leukemia development. Type I mutations are commonly in genes involved in growth factor signal transduction and include mutations in FLT3, KIT, NRAS, KRAS, and PTNP11.[34] Type II genomic alterations include the common translocations and mutations associated with favorable prognosis (t(8;21), inv(16), t(16;16), t(15;17), CEBPA, and NPM1). MLL rearrangements (translocations and partial tandem duplication) are also classified as Type II mutations.

Specific recurring cytogenetic and molecular abnormalities are briefly described below. The abnormalities are listed by those in clinical use that identify patients with favorable or unfavorable prognosis, followed by other abnormalities.

Molecular abnormalities associated with favorable prognosis include the following:

  • t(8;21) (RUNX1-RUNX1T1): In leukemias with t(8;21), the RUNX1(AML1) gene on chromosome 21 is fused with the RUNX1T1 (ETO) gene on chromosome 8. The t(8;21) translocation is associated with the FAB M2 subtype and with granulocytic sarcomas.[35][36] Adults with t(8;21) have a more favorable prognosis than adults with other types of AML.[25][37] These children have a more favorable outcome compared with children with AML characterized by normal or complex karyotypes [25][38][39][40] with 5-year overall survival (OS) of 80% to 90%.[28][29] The t(8;21) translocation occurs in approximately 12% of children with AML.[28][29]
  • inv(16) (CBFB-MYH11): In leukemias with inv(16), the CBF beta gene (CBFB) at chromosome band 16q22 is fused with the MYH11 gene at chromosome band 16p13. The inv(16) translocation is associated with the FAB M4Eo subtype.[41] Inv(16) confers a favorable prognosis for both adults and children with AML [25][38][39][40] with a 5-year OS of about 85%.[28][29] Inv(16) occurs in 7% to 9% of children with AML.[28][29]
  • t(15;17) (PML-RARA): AML with t(15;17) is invariably associated with APL, a distinct subtype of AML that is treated differently than other types of AML because of its marked sensitivity to the differentiating effects of all-trans retinoic acid. The t(15;17) translocation leads to the production of a fusion protein involving the retinoid acid receptor alpha and PML.[42] Other much less common translocations involving the retinoic acid receptor alpha can also result in APL (e.g., t(11;17)(q23;q21) involving the PLZF gene).[43] Identification of cases with the t(11;17)(q23;q21) is important because of their decreased sensitivity to all-trans retinoic acid.[42][43] APL represents about 7% of children with AML.[29][44]
  • Nucleophosmin (NPM1) mutations: NPM1 is a protein that has been linked to ribosomal protein assembly and transport as well as being a molecular chaperone involved in preventing protein aggregation in the nucleolus. Immunohistochemical methods can be used to accurately identify patients with NPM1 mutations by the demonstration of cytoplasmic localization of NPM.[45] Mutations in the NPM1 protein that diminish its nuclear localization are primarily associated with a subset of AML with a normal karyotype, absence of CD34 expression,[46] and an improved prognosis in the absence of FLT3-internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations in adults and younger adults.[46][47][48][49][50][51]

    Studies of children with AML suggest a lower rate of occurrence of NPM1 mutations in children compared with adults with normal cytogenetics. NPM1 mutations occur in approximately 8% of pediatric patients with AML and are uncommon in children younger than 2 years.[33][52][53][54]NPM1 mutations are associated with a favorable prognosis in patients with AML characterized by a normal karyotype.[33][53][54] For the pediatric population, conflicting reports have been published regarding the prognostic significance of an NPM1 mutation when a FLT3-ITD mutation is also present, with one study reporting that an NPM1 mutation did not completely abrogate the poor prognosis associated with having a FLT3-ITD mutation,[53][55] but with other studies showing no impact of a FLT3-ITD mutation on the favorable prognosis associated with an NPM1 mutation.[33][54]

  • CEBPA mutations: Mutations in the CCAAT/Enhancer Binding Protein Alpha gene (CEBPA) occur in a subset of children and adults with cytogenetically normal AML. In adults younger than 60 years, approximately 15% of cytogenetically normal AML cases have mutations in CEBPA.[50][56] Outcome for adults with AML with CEBPA mutations appears to be relatively favorable and similar to that of patients with core-binding factor leukemias.[50][56] Studies in adults with AML have demonstrated that CEBPA double-mutant, but not single-allele mutant, AML was independently associated with a favorable prognosis.[57][58][59][60]

    CEBPA mutations occur in 5% to 8% of children with AML and have been preferentially found in the cytogenetically normal subtype of AML with FAB M1 or M2; 70% to 80% of pediatric patients have double-mutant alleles, which is predictive of a significantly improved survival and similar to the effect observed in adult studies.[61][62] Although both double- and single-mutant alleles of CEBPA were associated with a favorable prognosis in children with AML in one large study,[61] a second study observed inferior outcome for patients with single CEBPA mutations.[62] However, very low numbers of children with single-allele mutants were included in these two studies (only 13 in toto), making a conclusion regarding the prognostic significance of single-allele CEBPA mutations in children premature.[61]

Molecular abnormalities associated with an unfavorable prognosis include the following:

  • Chromosomes 5 and 7: Chromosomal abnormalities associated with poor prognosis in adults with AML include those involving chromosome 5 (monosomy 5 and del(5q)) and chromosome 7 (monosomy 7).[25][37][63] These cytogenetic subgroups represent approximately 2% and 4% of pediatric AML cases, respectively, and are also associated with poor prognosis in children.[28][37][63][64][65][66]

    In the past, patients with del(7q) were also considered to be at high risk of treatment failure and data from adults with AML support a poor prognosis for both del(7q) and monosomy 7.[30] However, outcome for children with del(7q), but not monosomy 7, appears to be comparable to that of other children with AML.[29][66] The presence of del(7q) does not abrogate the prognostic significance of favorable cytogenetic characteristics (e.g., inv(16) and t(8;21)).[25][66][67]

    Chromosome 5 and 7 abnormalities appear to lack prognostic significance in AML patients with Down syndrome who are 4 years of age and younger.[68]

  • Chromosome 3 (inv(3)(q21;q26) or t(3;3)(q21;q26)) and EVI1 overexpression: The inv(3) and t(3;3) abnormalities involving the EVI1 gene located at chromosome 3q26 are associated with poor prognosis in adults with AML,[25][37][69] but are very uncommon in children (<1% of pediatric AML cases).[28][39][70]
  • FLT3 mutations: Presence of a FLT3-ITD mutation appears to be associated with poor prognosis in adults with AML,[71] particularly when both alleles are mutated or there is a high ratio of the mutant allele to the normal allele.[72][73]FLT3-ITD mutations also convey a poor prognosis in children with AML.[55][74][75][76][77][78] The frequency of FLT3-ITD mutations in children is lower than that observed in adults, especially for children younger than 10 years, for whom 5% to 10% of cases have the mutation (compared with approximately 30% for adults).[76][77][79] The prevalence of FLT3-ITD is increased in certain genomic subtypes of pediatric AML, including those with the NUP98-NSD1 fusion gene.[80]

    For APL, FLT3-ITD and point mutations occur in 30% to 40% of children and adults.[72][75][76][81][82][83][84] Presence of the FLT3-ITD mutation is strongly associated with the microgranular variant (M3v) of APL and with hyperleukocytosis.[75][83][85][86] It remains unclear whether FLT3 mutations are associated with poorer prognosis in patients with APL who are treated with modern therapy that includes all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide.[81][82][85][87][88]

    Activating point mutations of FLT3 have also been identified in both adults and children with AML, though the clinical significance of these mutations is not clearly defined.

Other molecular abnormalities observed in pediatric AML include the following:

  • MLL gene rearrangements: Translocations of chromosomal band 11q23 involving the MLL gene, including most AMLs secondary to epipodophyllotoxin,[89] are associated with monocytic differentiation (FAB M4 and M5). The most common translocation, representing approximately 50% of MLL-rearranged cases in the pediatric AML population, is t(9;11)(p22;q23) in which the MLL gene is fused with the MLLT3(AF9) gene.[90] An MLL gene rearrangement occurs in approximately 20% of children with AML.[28][29] However, more than 50 different fusion partners have been identified for the MLL gene in patients with AML. The median age for 11q23/MLL-rearranged cases in the pediatric AML setting is approximately 2 years, and most translocation subgroups have a median age at presentation of younger than 5 years.[90] However, pediatric cases with t(6;11)(q27;q23) and t(11;17)(q23;q21) have significantly older median ages at presentation (12 years and 9 years, respectively).[90]

    Outcome for patients with de novo AML and MLL gene rearrangement is generally reported as being similar to that for other patients with AML.[25][28][90][91] However, as the MLL gene can participate in translocations with many different fusion partners, the specific fusion partner appears to influence prognosis, as demonstrated by a large international retrospective study evaluating outcome for 756 children with 11q23- or MLL-rearranged AML.[90] For example, cases with t(1;11)(q21;q23), representing 3% of all 11q23/MLL-rearranged AML, showed a highly favorable outcome with 5-year EFS of 92%. While reports from single clinical trial groups have variably described more favorable prognosis for cases with t(9;11), in which the MLL gene is fused with the AF9 gene, the international retrospective study did not confirm the favorable prognosis of the t(9;11)(p22;q23) subgroup.[25][28][90][92][93][94]

    Several 11q23/MLL-rearranged AML subgroups appear to be associated with poor outcome. For example, cases with the t(10;11) translocation are a group at high risk of relapse in bone marrow and the central nervous system (CNS).[25][29][95] Some cases with the t(10;11) translocation have fusion of the MLL gene with the AF10-MLLT10 at 10p12, while others have fusion of MLL with ABI1 at 10p11.2.[96][97] The international retrospective study found that these cases, which present at a median age of approximately 1 year, have a 5-year EFS in the 20% to 30% range.[90] Patients with t(6;11)(q27;q23) and with t(4;11)(q21;q23) also have a poor outcome, with a 5-year EFS of 11% and 29%, respectively, in the international retrospective study.[90] A follow-up study by the international collaborative group demonstrated that additional cytogenetic abnormalities further influenced outcome of children with MLL translocations, with complex karyotypes and trisomy 19 predicting poor outcome and trisomy 8 predicting a more favorable outcome.[98]

  • t(6;9) (DEK-NUP214): t(6;9) leads to the formation of a leukemia-associated fusion protein DEK-NUP214.[99][100] This subgroup of AML has been associated with a poor prognosis in adults with AML,[99][101][102] and occurs infrequently in children (less than 1% of AML cases). The median age of children with DEK-NUP214 AML is 10 to 11 years, and approximately 40% of pediatric patients have FLT3-ITD.[103] t(6;9) AML appears to be associated with a high risk of treatment failure in children, particularly for those not proceeding to allogeneic stem cell transplantation.[28][100][103]
  • t(1;22) (RBM15-MKL1): The t(1;22)(p13;q13) translocation is uncommon (<1% of pediatric AML) and is restricted to acute megakaryocytic leukemia (AMKL).[28][104][105][106] Most AMKL cases with t(1;22) occur in infants, with the median age at presentation (4–7 months) being younger than that for other children with AMKL.[107][108] The translocation is uncommon in children with Down syndrome who develop AMKL.[104][106] In leukemias with t(1;22), the RBM15 (OTT) gene on chromosome 1 is fused to the MKL1 (MAL) gene on chromosome 22.[109][110] Cases with detectable RBM15-MKL1 fusion transcripts in the absence of t(1;22) have also been reported.[106]

    A report of 39 cases of AMKL with t(1;22) described a relatively poor outcome (survival rate of approximately 30%), similar to that of other patients with non–Down syndrome AMKL.[108] Further experience has suggested that within the context of intensive chemotherapy and adequate supportive care, infants with t(1;22) can have a relatively favorable outcome that is superior to that of children with AMKL whose leukemia lacks t(1;22), with only 3 of 16 children with t(1;22) relapsing in two series.[106][107][111]

  • t(8;16) (MYST3-CREBBP): The t(8;16) translocation fuses the MYST3 gene on chromosome 8p11 to CREBBP on chromosome 16p13. t(8;16) AML occurs rarely in children, and in an international Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster AML study of 62 children, presence of this translocation was associated with younger age at diagnosis (median, 1.2 years), FAB M4/M5 phenotype, erythrophagocytosis, leukemia cutis, and disseminated intravascular coagulation.[112] Outcome for children with t(8;16) AML appears similar to other types of AML. A substantial proportion of infants diagnosed with t(8;16) AML in the first month of life show spontaneous remission, although AML recurrence may occur months to years later.[112][113][114][115][116][117][118] These observations suggest that a watch and wait policy could be considered in cases of t(8;16) AML diagnosed in the neonatal period if close long-term monitoring can be ensured.[112]
  • t(7;12)(q36;p13): The t(7;12)(q36;p13) translocation involves ETV6 on chromosome 12p13 and variable breakpoints on chromosome 7q36 in the region of MNX1 (HLXB9).[119] The translocation may be cryptic by conventional karyotyping and in some cases may be confirmed only by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).[120][121][122] This alteration occurs virtually exclusively in children younger than 2 years, is mutually exclusive with MLL rearrangement, and is associated with a high risk of treatment failure.[28][29][33][120][121][123]
  • NUP98 gene fusions: NUP98 has been reported to form leukemogenic gene fusions with more than 20 different partners.[124] In the pediatric AML setting, the two most common fusion genes are NUP98-NSD1 and NUP98-JARID1A, with the former observed in one report in approximately 15% of cytogenetically normal pediatric AML and the latter observed in approximately 10% of pediatric AMKL.[80][107] AML cases with either NUP98 fusion gene show high expression of HOXA and HOXB genes, indicative of a stem cell phenotype.[100][107]
    • NUP98-NSD1: The NUP98-NSD1 fusion gene, which is often cytogenetically cryptic, results from the fusion of NUP98 (chromosome 11p15) with NSD1 (chromosome 5q35).[80][100][125][126][127][128] This alteration occurs in approximately 4% of pediatric AML cases.[80][100][127]NUP98-NSD1 cases have not been observed in children younger than 2 years,[80][100][125][126][127][128] and they present with high white blood cell (WBC) count (median, 147 × 109/L in one study).[80] Most NUP98-NSD1 AML cases do not show cytogenetic aberrations.[80][100][125] A high percentage of NUP98-NSD1 cases (91% in one study) have FLT3-ITD.[80] Presence of NUP98-NSD1 independently predicted for poor prognosis, and children with NUP98-NSD1 AML had a high risk of relapse, with a resulting 4-year EFS of approximately 10%.[80]
    • NUP98-JARID1A:NUP98-JARID1A is a recurrent cryptic translocation in pediatric AMKL, accounting for approximately 10% of AMKL cases and having a median age at presentation of approximately 2 years. Risk of treatment failure appears high for patients with NUP98-JARID1A, although the number of patients studied is small.[107]
  • CBFA2T3-GLIS2: Initial reports have demonstrated that CBFA2T3-GLIS2 is a fusion product present in approximately 2% of pediatric AML; has a predominance in cytogenetically normal AML; and is associated with a poor prognosis in pediatric AML patients, with EFS and OS rates of approximately 30%.[107][129][130][131] The CBFA2T3-GLIS2 fusion protein results from a cryptic chromosome 16 inversion (inv(16)(p13.3q24.3)).[130][132] It was initially reported in patients with AMKL and was observed in approximately 30% of pediatric non–Down syndrome AMKL cases but was not observed in adults with AMKL.[130][132] A report of 105 cases of non–Down syndrome AMKL identified CBFA2T3-GLIS2 in 13% of cases.[107] Subsequently, the CBFA2T3-GLIS2 fusion has been identified in non-AMKL pediatric patients, with 20 patients (10 with AMKL) positive for the fusion of 237 patients with cytogenetically normal AML investigated (8.4%).[129]
  • RAS mutations: Although mutations in RAS have been identified in 20% to 25% of patients with AML, the prognostic significance of these mutations has not been clearly shown.[33][133][134][135] Mutations in NRAS are observed more commonly than KRAS mutations in pediatric AML cases.[33][34]RAS mutations occur with similar frequency for all Type II alteration subtypes with the exception of APL, for which RAS mutations are seldom observed.[33]
  • KIT mutations: Mutations in KIT occur in approximately 5% of AML, but in 10% to 40% of AML with core-binding factor abnormalities.[33][34][136][137] The presence of activating KIT mutations in adults with this AML subtype appears to be associated with a poorer prognosis compared with core-binding factor AML without KIT mutation.[137][138][139] The prognostic significance of KIT mutations occurring in pediatric core-binding factor AML remains unclear,[136][140][141][142] although the largest pediatric study reported to date observed no prognostic significance for KIT mutations.[143]
  • GATA1 mutations:GATA1 mutations are present in most, if not all, Down syndrome children with either transient myeloproliferative disease or AMKL.[144][145][146][147]GATA1 mutations are not observed in non-Down syndrome children with AMKL or in Down syndrome children with other types of leukemia.[146][147]GATA1 is a transcription factor that is required for normal development of erythroid cells, megakaryocytes, eosinophils, and mast cells.[148]GATA1 mutations confer increased sensitivity to cytarabine by down-regulating cytidine deaminase expression, possibly providing an explanation for the superior outcome of children with Down syndrome and M7 AML when treated with cytarabine-containing regimens.[149]
  • WT1 mutations:WT1, a zinc-finger protein regulating gene transcription, is mutated in approximately 10% of cytogenetically normal cases of AML in adults.[150][151][152][153] The WT1 mutation has been shown in some,[150][151][153] but not all,[152] studies to be an independent predictor of worse disease-free, event-free, and overall survival of adults. In children with AML, WT1 mutations are observed in approximately 10% of cases.[154][155] Cases with WT1 mutations are enriched among children with normal cytogenetics and FLT3-ITD, but are less common among children younger than 3 years.[154][155] AML cases with NUP98-NSD1 are enriched for both FLT3-ITD and WT1 mutations.[80] In univariate analyses, WT1 mutations are predictive of poorer outcome in pediatric patients, but the independent prognostic significance of WT1 mutation status is unclear because of its strong association with FLT3-ITD and its association with NUP98-NSD1.[80][154][155] The largest study of WT1 mutations in children with AML observed that children with WT1 mutations in the absence of FLT3-ITD had outcomes similar to that of children without WT1 mutations, while children with both WT1 mutation and FLT3-ITD had survival rates less than 20%.[154]
  • DNMT3A mutations: Mutations of the DNA cytosine methyltransferase gene (DNMT3A) have been identified in approximately 20% of adult AML patients, being virtually absent in patients with favorable cytogenetics but occurring in one-third of adult patients with intermediate-risk cytogenetics.[156] Mutations in this gene are independently associated with poor outcome.[156][157][158]DNMT3A mutations appear to be very uncommon in children.[159]
  • IDH1 and IDH2 mutations: Mutations in IDH1 and IDH2, which code for isocitrate dehydrogenase, occur in approximately 20% of adults with AML,[160][161][162][163][164] and they are enriched in patients with NPM1 mutations.[161][162][165] The specific mutations that occur in IDH1 and IDH2 create a novel enzymatic activity that promotes conversion of alpha-ketoglutarate to 2-hydroxyglutarate.[166][167] This novel activity appears to induce a DNA hypermethylation phenotype similar to that observed in AML cases with loss of function mutations in TET2.[165] Mutations in IDH1 and IDH2 are uncommon in pediatric AML, occurring in 0% to 4% of cases.[159][168][169][170][171][172] There is no indication of a negative prognostic effect for IDH1 and IDH2 mutations in children with AML.[168]

Classification of Myelodysplastic Syndromes in Children

The FAB classification of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) was not completely applicable to children.[173][174] Traditionally, MDS classification systems have been divided into several distinct categories based on the presence of the following:[174][175][176][177]

  • Myelodysplasia.
  • Types of cytopenia.
  • Specific chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Percentage of myeloblasts.

A modified classification schema for MDS and myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) was published by WHO in 2008 and included subsections that focused on pediatric MDS and MPD.[178] The primary WHO classification includes:

WHO classification of MDS

  • Refractory cytopenia with unilineage dysplasia:
    • Refractory anemia.
    • Refractory neutropenia.
    • Refractory thrombocytopenia.
  • Refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts.
  • Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia.
  • Refractory anemia with excess blasts.
  • MDS with isolated del (5q).
  • MDS, unclassifiable.
  • Childhood MDS:
    • Provisional entity: Refractory cytopenia of childhood.

      Refractory cytopenia of childhood is noted to be reserved for children with MDS who have less than 2% blasts in their peripheral blood and less than 5% blasts in their bone marrow along with persistent cytopenia(s) and dysplasia. It is also noted in the new WHO classification that refractory cytopenia of childhood, unlike MDS in adults, is usually characterized by bone marrow hypocellularity, making the distinction with aplastic anemia and bone marrow failure syndromes often difficult.

WHO classification of myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms

  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML).
  • Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia, BCR-ABL1 negative (aCML).
  • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML).
  • Myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasm, unclassifiable.
    • Provisional entity: Refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis.

      Refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis is notable in that 50% to 60% of cases have JAK2 V617F mutations.[179]

WHO classification of myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms with eosinophilia and abnormalities of PDGFRA (4q12), PDGFRB (5q33.2), or FGFR1 (8p11.2)

  • Myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms with PDGFRA rearrangement.
  • Myeloid neoplasms with PDGFRB rearrangement.
  • Myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms with FGFR1 abnormalities.

The peripheral blood and bone marrow findings for the myelodysplastic syndromes according to the 2008 WHO classification schema [178] are summarized in Table 3.

Table 3. World Health Organization (WHO) Peripheral Blood and Bone Marrow Findings for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

RCUD (including RA, RN and RT)

RARS

RCMD

RAEB-1

RAEB-2

MDS-U

del(5q)

Cytopenia(s)

Unicytopenia or bicytopeniaa

+

+

+

+

Anemia

+

+

Platelets

Normal to increased

Marrow dysplasia

UL or ML

UL or ML

erythroid

+

myeloid

≥10% in 1 myeloid lineage

≥10% in ≥2 myeloid lineages

<10% in ≥1 myeloid lineageb

megakaryocytic

Normal to increased with hypolobulated nuclei

Auer rods (blood and/or bone marrow)

None

None

±c

None

Ringed sideroblasts

<15% of EP

≥15% of EP

± 15%

Peripheral blasts

Rare or none (<1%)d

None

Rare or none (<1%)d

<5%d

5%–19%

(≤1%)d

Rare or none (<1%)

Bone marrow blasts

<5%

<5%

<5%

5%–9%d

10%–19%

<5%

<5%

Peripheral monocytes

<1 x 109/L

<1 x 109/L

<1 x 109/L

Cytogenetic abnormality

Isolated del(5q)

EP = erythroid precursors; MDS-U = myelodysplastic syndromes, unclassifiable; ML = multilineage; RA = refractory anemia; RAEB = refractory anemia with excess blasts; RARS = refractory anaemia with ring sideroblasts; RCMD = refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia; RCUD = refractory cytopenia with unilineage dysplasia; RN = refractory neutropenia; RT = refractory thrombocytopenia; UL = unilineage.

aBicytopenia may occasionally be observed. Cases with pancytopenia should be classified as MDS-U.

bWhen accompanied by cytogenetic abnormality considered as presumptive evidence for a diagnosis of MDS.

cCases with Auer rods and <5% myeloblasts in the blood and <10% in the marrow should be classified as RAEB-2.

dIf the marrow myeloblast percentage is <5% but there are 2%–4% myeloblasts in the blood, the diagnostic classification is RAEB-1. Cases of RCUD and RCMD with 1% myeloblasts in the blood should be classified as MDS-U.

A pediatric approach to the WHO classification of myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative diseases was published in 2003.[10] A retrospective comparison of the WHO classification to the Category, Cytology, and Cytogenetics system (CCC) and to a Pediatric WHO adaptation for MDS/MPD, has shown that the latter two systems appear to effectively classify childhood MDS better than the more general WHO system.[180] For instance, while refractory anemia with ring sideroblasts is rare in children, refractory anemia and refractory anemia with excess blasts are more common. When such refractory cytopenias with excess blasts (5%–20%) are associated with recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities usually associated with AML, a diagnosis of the latter should be made and treated accordingly.

The WHO classification schema has a subgroup that includes JMML (formerly juvenile chronic myeloid leukemia), CMML, and Ph chromosome–negative CML. This group can show mixed myeloproliferative and sometimes myelodysplastic features. JMML shares some characteristics with adult CMML [181][182][183] but is a distinct syndrome (see below). A subgroup of children younger than 4 years at diagnosis with JMML associated with monosomy 7, are considered to have a subtype of JMML characterized by lower WBC, higher percentage of circulating monocytes, higher mean cell volume for red blood cells, a lower bone marrow myeloid to erythroid ratio and often, normal to moderately increased fetal hemoglobin.

The International Prognostic Scoring System is used to determine the risk of progression to AML and the outcome in adult patients with MDS. When this system was applied to children with MDS or JMML, only a blast count of less than 5% and a platelet count of more than 100 x 109/L were associated with a better survival in MDS, and a platelet count of more than 40 x 109/L predicted a better outcome in JMML.[184] These results suggest that MDS and JMML in children may be significantly different disorders than adult-type MDS.

MDS in older children with monosomy 7 and high-grade MDS behaves more like MDS in adults and are best classified as adult MDS, as well as treated with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.[185][186] The risk group or grade of MDS is defined according to International Prognostic Scoring System guidelines.[187]

Diagnostic Classification of Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia

JMML is a rare leukemia that occurs approximately ten times less frequently than AML in children, with an annual incidence of about 1 to 2 cases per 1 million people.[186] JMML typically presents in young children (a median age of approximately 1.8 years) and occurs more commonly in boys (male to female ratio approximately 2.5:1). Common clinical features at diagnosis include hepatosplenomegaly (97%), lymphadenopathy (76%), pallor (64%), fever (54%), and skin rash (36%).[188] In children presenting with clinical features suggestive of JMML, current criteria used for a definitive diagnosis are described in Table 4:[189]

Table 4. Diagnostic Criteria for Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML)

Category 1 (all of the following)a

Category 2 (at least one of the following)b,c

Category 3 (two of the following if no category 2 criteria are met)a,d

Absence of the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene

Somatic mutation in RAS or PTPN11

White blood cell count >10 × 109/L

>1 × 109/L circulating monocytes

Clinical diagnosis of NF1 or NF1 gene mutation

Circulating myeloid precursors

<20% blasts in the bone marrow

Monosomy 7

Increased hemoglobin F for age

Splenomegalyb,e

Clonal cytogenetic abnormality excluding monosomy 7b

GM-CSF hypersensitivity

GM-CSF = granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; NF1 = neurofibromatosis type 1.

aCurrent World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

bProposed additions to the WHO criteria that were discussed by participants attending the JMML Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia in 2008.[190]CBL mutations were discovered subsequent to the symposium and should be screened for in the workup of a patient with suspected JMML.[191]

cPatients who are found to have a category 2 lesion need to meet the criteria in category 1 but do not need to meet the category 3 criteria.

dPatients who are not found to have a category 2 lesion must meet the category 1 and 3 criteria.

eNote that only 7% of patients with JMML will NOT present with splenomegaly but virtually all patients develop splenomegaly within several weeks to months of initial presentation.

Characteristics of JMML cells include in vitro hypersensitivity to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and activated RAS signaling secondary to mutations in various components of this pathway including NF1, KRAS,NRAS, and PTPN11.[192][193][194] Mutations of the E3 ubiquitin ligase CBL are observed in 10% to 15% of JMML cases,[195][196] with many of these cases occurring in children with germline CBL mutations.[197][198]CBL germline mutations result in an autosomal dominant developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired growth, developmental delay, cryptorchidism, and a predisposition to JMML.[197] Some individuals with CBL germline mutations experience spontaneous regression of their JMML, but develop vasculitis later in life.[197]CBL mutations are mutually exclusive with RAS and PTPN11 mutations.[195] While most children with JMML have no detectable cytogenetic abnormalities, 20% to 25% show loss of chromosome 7 in bone marrow cells.[182][188][197][199][200]

Recurrent mutations in SETBP1 or JAK3 have also been identified in addition to RAS pathway mutations in about 16% of JMML cases. These mutations were generally subclonal and, thus, thought to be secondary mutations. It has been suggested that the presence of these mutations leads to a decreased OS.[201]

Stage Information

There is presently no therapeutically or prognostically meaningful staging system for these myeloid malignancies. Leukemia is considered to be disseminated in the hematopoietic system at diagnosis, even in children with AML who present with isolated chloromas (also called granulocytic sarcomas). If these children do not receive systemic chemotherapy, they invariably develop AML in months or years. AML may invade nonhematopoietic tissue such as meninges, brain parenchyma, testes or ovaries, or skin (leukemia cutis). Extramedullary leukemia is more common in infants than in older children with AML.[202]

Newly diagnosed

Childhood AML is diagnosed when bone marrow has greater than 20% blasts. The blasts have the morphologic and histochemical characteristics of one of the FAB subtypes of AML. It can also be diagnosed by biopsy of a chloroma. For treatment purposes, patients with clonal cytogenetic abnormalities typically associated with AML, such as t(8:21) (RUNX1-RUNX1T1), inv(16)(CBFB-MYH11), t(9;11)(MLL-MLLT3(AF9)) or t(15;17)(PML-RARA) and who have less than 20% bone marrow blasts, are considered to have AML rather than myelodysplastic syndrome.[203]

In remission

Remission is defined in the United States as peripheral blood counts (WBC count, differential, and platelet count) rising toward normal, a mildly hypocellular to normal cellular marrow with fewer than 5% blasts, and no clinical signs or symptoms of the disease, including in the CNS or at other extramedullary sites. Achieving a hypoplastic bone marrow is usually the first step in obtaining remission in AML with the exception of the M3 (acute promyelocytic leukemia [APL]); a hypoplastic marrow phase is often not necessary before the achievement of remission in APL. Additionally, early recovery marrows in any of the subtypes of AML may be difficult to distinguish from persistent leukemia, although the application of flow cytometric immunophenotyping and cytogenetic/molecular testing have made this less problematic. Correlation with blood cell counts and clinical status is imperative in passing final judgment on the results of early bone marrow findings in AML.[204] If the findings are in doubt, the bone marrow aspirate should be repeated in 1 to 2 weeks.[202]

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Treatment Overview for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

The mainstay of the therapeutic approach is systemically administered combination chemotherapy.[1] Future approaches involving risk-group stratification and biologically targeted therapies are being tested to improve antileukemic treatment while sparing normal tissues.[2] Optimal treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) requires control of bone marrow and systemic disease. Treatment of the central nervous system (CNS), usually with intrathecal medication, is a component of most pediatric AML protocols but has not yet been shown to contribute directly to an improvement in survival. CNS irradiation is not necessary in patients either as prophylaxis or for those presenting with cerebrospinal fluid leukemia that clears with intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy.

Treatment is ordinarily divided into two phases: (1) induction (to attain remission), and (2) postremission consolidation/intensification. Postremission therapy may consist of varying numbers of courses of intensive chemotherapy and/or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). For example, ongoing trials of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC) utilize similar chemotherapy regimens consisting of two courses of induction chemotherapy followed by two additional courses of intensification chemotherapy.[3][4]

Maintenance therapy is not part of most pediatric AML protocols as two randomized clinical trials failed to show a benefit for maintenance chemotherapy.[5][6] The exception to this generalization is acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), for which maintenance therapy has been shown to improve event-free survival and overall survival (OS).[7]

Treatment approaches currently used for AML are usually associated with severe and protracted myelosuppression along with other associated complications. Treatment with hematopoietic growth factors (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor [GM-CSF] and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor [G-CSF]) has been used in an attempt to reduce the toxic effects associated with severe myelosuppression but does not influence ultimate outcome.[8] Virtually all randomized trials of hematopoietic growth factors (GM-CSF and G-CSF) in adults with AML have demonstrated significant reduction in the time to neutrophil recovery,[9][10][11][12] but varying degrees of reduction in morbidity and little, if any, effect on mortality.[8] The BFM 98 study confirmed a lack of benefit for the use of G-CSF in a randomized pediatric AML trial.[13]

Because of the intensity of therapy utilized to treat AML, children with this disease should have their care coordinated by specialists in pediatric oncology and be treated in cancer centers or hospitals with the necessary supportive care facilities (e.g., to administer specialized blood products; to manage infectious complications; to provide pediatric intensive care; and to provide emotional and developmental support). Approximately one-half of the remission induction failures are due to resistant disease and the other half are due to toxic deaths. For example, in the MRC 10 and 12 AML trials, there was a 4% resistant disease rate in addition to a 4% induction death rate.[3] With increasing rates of survival for children treated for AML comes an increased awareness of long-term sequelae of various treatments. For children who receive intensive chemotherapy, including anthracyclines, continued monitoring of cardiac function is critical. Periodic renal and auditory examinations are also suggested. In addition, total-body irradiation before HSCT increases the risk of growth failure, gonadal and thyroid dysfunction, and cataract formation.[14]

Prognostic Factors in Childhood AML

Prognostic factors in childhood AML have been identified and can be categorized as follows:

  • Age: Several reports published since 2000 have identified older age as being an adverse prognostic factor.[4][15][16][17][18][19] The age effect is not large, but there is consistency in the observation that adolescents have a somewhat poorer outcome than younger children.

    While outcome for infants with ALL remains inferior to that of older children, outcome for infants with AML is similar to that of older children when they are treated with standard AML regimens.[15][20][21][22] Infants have been reported to have a 5-year survival of 60% to 70%, although with increased treatment-associated toxicity.[15][20][21][22]

  • Race/Ethnicity: In both the Children's Cancer Group (CCG) CCG-2891 and COG-2961 (CCG-2961) studies, Caucasian children had higher OS rates than African American and Hispanic children.[17][23] A trend for lower survival rates for African American children compared with Caucasian children was also observed in children treated on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital AML clinical trials.[24]
  • Down syndrome: For children with Down syndrome who develop AML, outcome is generally favorable.[25] The prognosis is particularly good (event-free survival exceeding 80%) in children aged 4 years or younger at diagnosis, the age group that accounts for the vast majority of Down syndrome patients with AML.[26][27]

    A large study of children with AML and Down syndrome confirmed the prognostic significance of younger age, and it identified the absence of cytogenetic abnormalities (other than trisomy 21), representing approximately 30% of cases, as an independent predictor of inferior OS and EFS.[28]

  • Body mass index: In the COG-2961 (CCG-2961) study, obesity (body mass index more than 95th percentile for age) was predictive of inferior survival.[17][29] Inferior survival was attributable to early treatment-related mortality that was primarily due to infectious complications.[29] Obesity has been associated with inferior survival in children with AML, primarily caused by a higher rate of fatal infections during the early phases of treatment.[30]
  • White blood cell (WBC) count: WBC count at diagnosis has been consistently noted to be inversely related to survival.[4][31][32][33] Patients with high presenting leukocyte counts have a higher risk of developing pulmonary and CNS complications and have a higher risk of induction death.[34]
  • FAB subtype: Associations between FAB subtype and prognosis have been more variable. The M3 (APL) subtype has a favorable outcome in studies utilizing all-trans retinoic acid in combination with chemotherapy.[35][36][37] Some studies have indicated a relatively poor outcome for M7 (megakaryocytic leukemia) in patients without Down syndrome,[25][38] though reports suggest an intermediate prognosis for this group of patients when contemporary treatment approaches are used.[3][39] The M0, or minimally differentiated subtype, has been associated with a poor outcome.[40]
  • CNS disease: CNS involvement at diagnosis is categorized based on the presence or absence of blasts in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), as follows:
    • CNS1: CSF negative for blasts on cytospin, regardless of CSF WBC count.
    • CNS2: CSF with fewer than five WBC/μL and cytospin positive for blasts.
    • CNS3: CSF with five or more WBC/μL and cytospin positive for blasts.

    CNS2 disease has been observed in approximately 13% of children with AML and CNS3 disease in 11% to 17% of children with AML.[41][42] In another study, patients with CNS3 were younger and had a higher incidence of t(9;11), t(8;21) or inv(16).[42]

    The presence of CNS disease (CNS2 and/or CNS3) at diagnosis has not been shown to affect OS; however, it may be associated with an increased risk of isolated CNS relapse.[43]

  • Cytogenetic and molecular characteristics: Cytogenetic and molecular characteristics are also associated with prognosis. (Refer to the Cytogenetic evaluation and molecular abnormalities section in the Classification of Pediatric Myeloid Malignancies subsection of this summary for detailed information.) Cytogenetic and molecular characteristics that are currently used in clinical trials for treatment assignment include the following:
    • Favorable: inv(16)/t(16;16) and t(8;21), t(15;17), biallelic CEBPA mutations, and NPM1 mutations.
    • Unfavorable: monosomy 7, monosomy 5/del(5q), 3q abnormalities, and FLT3-ITD with high-allelic ratio.[44]
  • Response to therapy/minimal residual disease (MRD): Early response to therapy, generally measured after the first course of induction therapy, is predictive of outcome and can be assessed by standard morphologic examination of bone marrow,[31][45] by cytogenetic analysis,[46] by fluorescence in situ hybridization, or by more sophisticated techniques to identify MRD.[47][48][49] Multiple groups have shown that the level of MRD after one course of induction therapy is an independent predictor of prognosis.[47][49][50]

    Molecular approaches to assessing MRD in AML (e.g., using quantitative reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction [RT–PCR]) have been challenging to apply because of the genomic heterogeneity of pediatric AML and the instability of some genomic alterations. Quantitative RT–PCR detection of AML1-ETO fusion transcripts can effectively predict higher risk of relapse for patients in clinical remission.[51][52][53] Other molecular alterations such as NPM1 mutations [54] and CBFB-MYH11 fusion transcripts [55] have also been successfully employed as leukemia-specific molecular markers in MRD assays, and for these alterations the level of MRD has shown prognostic significance. The presence of FLT3-ITD has been shown to be discordant between diagnosis and relapse, although when its presence persists (usually associated with a high allelic ratio at diagnosis), it can be useful in detecting residual leukemia.[56]

    For APL, MRD detection at the end of induction therapy lacks prognostic significance, likely relating to the delayed clearance of differentiating leukemic cells destined to eventually die.[57][58] However, the kinetics of molecular remission following completion of induction therapy is prognostic, with the persistence of minimal disease after three courses of therapy portending increased risk of relapse.[58][59][60]

    Flow cytometric methods have been used for MRD detection and can detect leukemic blasts based on the expression of aberrant surface antigens that differ from the pattern observed in normal progenitors. A CCG study of 252 pediatric patients with AML in morphologic remission demonstrated that MRD as assessed by flow cytometry was the strongest prognostic factor predicting outcome in a multivariate analysis.[47] Other reports have confirmed both the utility of flow cytometric methods for MRD detection in the pediatric AML setting and the prognostic significance of MRD at various time points after treatment initiation.[49][50][61]

Risk classification systems under clinical evaluation

Risk classification for treatment assignment on the COG-AAML1031 study is based on cytogenetics, molecular markers, and MRD at bone marrow recovery postinduction I, with patients being divided into a low-risk or high-risk group as follows:

The low-risk group represents about 73% of patients, has a predicted OS of approximately 75%, and is defined by the following:

  • Inv(16), t(8;21), nucleophosmin (NPM) mutations, or CEBPA mutations with any MRD status.
  • Standard-risk cytogenetics (defined by the absence of either low-risk or high-risk cytogenetic characteristics) with negative MRD at end of Induction I.

The high-risk group represents the remaining 27% of patients, has a predicted OS less than 35%, and is defined by the following:

  • High allelic ratio FLT3-ITD-positive with any MRD status.
  • Monosomy 7 with any MRD status.
  • del(5q) with any MRD status.
  • Standard-risk cytogenetics with positive MRD at end of Induction I.

The high-risk group of patients will be offered transplantation in first remission with the most appropriate available donor. Patients in the low-risk group will only be offered transplantation in second complete remission.[61][62]

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  36. Testi AM, Biondi A, Lo Coco F, et al.: GIMEMA-AIEOPAIDA protocol for the treatment of newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in children. Blood 106 (2): 447-53, 2005.

  37. Ortega JJ, Madero L, Martín G, et al.: Treatment with all-trans retinoic acid and anthracycline monochemotherapy for children with acute promyelocytic leukemia: a multicenter study by the PETHEMA Group. J Clin Oncol 23 (30): 7632-40, 2005.

  38. Athale UH, Razzouk BI, Raimondi SC, et al.: Biology and outcome of childhood acute megakaryoblastic leukemia: a single institution's experience. Blood 97 (12): 3727-32, 2001.

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  40. Barbaric D, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: Minimally differentiated acute myeloid leukemia (FAB AML-M0) is associated with an adverse outcome in children: a report from the Children's Oncology Group, studies CCG-2891 and CCG-2961. Blood 109 (6): 2314-21, 2007.

  41. Johnston DL, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: Superior outcome of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia patients with orbital and CNS myeloid sarcoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 58 (4): 519-24, 2012.

  42. Abbott BL, Rubnitz JE, Tong X, et al.: Clinical significance of central nervous system involvement at diagnosis of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: a single institution's experience. Leukemia 17 (11): 2090-6, 2003.

  43. Johnston DL, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: The presence of central nervous system disease at diagnosis in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia does not affect survival: a Children's Oncology Group study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 55 (3): 414-20, 2010.

  44. Lugthart S, Gröschel S, Beverloo HB, et al.: Clinical, molecular, and prognostic significance of WHO type inv(3)(q21q26.2)/t(3;3)(q21;q26.2) and various other 3q abnormalities in acute myeloid leukemia. J Clin Oncol 28 (24): 3890-8, 2010.

  45. Wheatley K, Burnett AK, Goldstone AH, et al.: A simple, robust, validated and highly predictive index for the determination of risk-directed therapy in acute myeloid leukaemia derived from the MRC AML 10 trial. United Kingdom Medical Research Council's Adult and Childhood Leukaemia Working Parties. Br J Haematol 107 (1): 69-79, 1999.

  46. Marcucci G, Mrózek K, Ruppert AS, et al.: Abnormal cytogenetics at date of morphologic complete remission predicts short overall and disease-free survival, and higher relapse rate in adult acute myeloid leukemia: results from Cancer and Leukemia Group B study 8461. J Clin Oncol 22 (12): 2410-8, 2004.

  47. Sievers EL, Lange BJ, Alonzo TA, et al.: Immunophenotypic evidence of leukemia after induction therapy predicts relapse: results from a prospective Children's Cancer Group study of 252 patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 101 (9): 3398-406, 2003.

  48. Weisser M, Kern W, Rauhut S, et al.: Prognostic impact of RT-PCR-based quantification of WT1 gene expression during MRD monitoring of acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia 19 (8): 1416-23, 2005.

  49. van der Velden VH, van der Sluijs-Geling A, Gibson BE, et al.: Clinical significance of flowcytometric minimal residual disease detection in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia patients treated according to the DCOG ANLL97/MRC AML12 protocol. Leukemia 24 (9): 1599-606, 2010.

  50. Rubnitz JE, Inaba H, Dahl G, et al.: Minimal residual disease-directed therapy for childhood acute myeloid leukaemia: results of the AML02 multicentre trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (6): 543-52, 2010.

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  59. Diverio D, Rossi V, Avvisati G, et al.: Early detection of relapse by prospective reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis of the PML/RARalpha fusion gene in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia enrolled in the GIMEMA-AIEOP multicenter "AIDA" trial. GIMEMA-AIEOP Multicenter "AIDA" Trial. Blood 92 (3): 784-9, 1998.

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Treatment of Newly Diagnosed AML

The general principles of therapy for children and adolescents with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are discussed below, followed by a more specific discussion of the treatment of children with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and Down syndrome.

Overall survival (OS) rates have improved over the past three decades for children with AML, with 5-year survival rates now in the 55% to 65% range.[1][2][3][4][5] Overall remission-induction rates are approximately 85% to 90%, and event-free survival (EFS) rates from the time of diagnosis are in the 45% to 55% range.[2][3][4][5] There is, however, a wide range in outcome for different biological subtypes of AML (refer to the Cytogenetic Evaluation and Molecular Abnormalities section of this summary for more information); after taking specific biological factors of their leukemia into account, the predicted outcome for any individual patient may be much better or much worse than the overall outcome for the general population of children with AML.

Induction Chemotherapy

Contemporary pediatric AML protocols result in 85% to 90% complete remission rates.[6][7][8] Approximately 3% of patients die during the induction phase, most commonly due to treatment-related complications.[6][7][8] To achieve a complete remission, inducing profound bone marrow aplasia (with the exception of the M3 APL subtype) is usually necessary with currently used combination chemotherapy regimens. Because induction chemotherapy produces severe myelosuppression, morbidity and mortality from infection or hemorrhage during the induction period may be significant.

The two most effective drugs used to induce remission in children with AML are cytarabine and an anthracycline. Commonly used pediatric induction therapy regimens use cytarabine and an anthracycline in combination with other agents such as etoposide and/or thioguanine.[3][9][10] The United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC) 10 Trial compared induction with cytarabine, daunorubicin, and etoposide (ADE) versus cytarabine and daunorubicin administered with thioguanine (DAT); the results showed no difference between the thioguanine and etoposide arms in remission rate or disease-free survival, although the thioguanine-containing regimen was associated with increased toxicity.[11]

The anthracycline that has been most used in induction regimens for children with AML is daunorubicin,[3][9][10] although idarubicin and the anthracenedione mitoxantrone have also been used.[6][12][13] Randomized trials have attempted to determine whether any other anthracycline or anthracenedione is superior to daunorubicin as a component of induction therapy for children with AML.

  • The German Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster (BFM) Group AML-BFM 93 study evaluated cytarabine plus etoposide with either daunorubicin or idarubicin (ADE or AIE) and observed similar EFS and OS for both induction treatments.[10][12]
  • The MRC-LEUK-AML12 clinical trial studied induction with cytarabine, mitoxantrone, and etoposide (MAE) in children and adults with AML compared with a similar regimen using daunorubicin (ADE).[6][14] For all patients, MAE showed a reduction in relapse risk, but the increased rate of treatment-related mortality observed for patients receiving MAE led to no significant difference in disease-free survival or OS in comparison to ADE.[14] Similar results were noted when analyses were restricted to pediatric patients.[6]
  • The AML-BFM 2004 clinical trial compared liposomal daunorubicin (L-DNR) to idarubicin at a higher-than-equivalent dose (80 mg/m2 vs. 12 mg/m2 per day for 3 days) during induction. Five-year results in both treatment arms were similar for both OS and EFS. Treatment-related mortality was significantly lower with L-DNR than idarubicin (2 of 257 patients vs. 10 of 264 patients).[15]

In the absence of convincing data that another anthracycline or mitoxantrone produces superior outcome to daunorubicin when given at an equitoxic dose, daunorubicin remains the anthracycline most commonly used during induction therapy for children with AML in the United States.

The intensity of induction therapy influences the overall outcome of therapy. The CCG-2891 study demonstrated that intensively timed induction therapy (4-day treatment courses separated by only 6 days) produced better EFS than standard-timing induction therapy (4-day treatment courses separated by 2 weeks or longer).[3] The MRC has intensified induction therapy by prolonging the duration of cytarabine treatment to 10 days.[9] Another way of intensifying induction therapy is by the use of high-dose cytarabine. While studies in nonelderly adults suggest an advantage for intensifying induction therapy with high-dose cytarabine (2–3 g/m2/dose) compared with standard-dose cytarabine,[16][17] a benefit for the use of high-dose cytarabine compared with standard-dose cytarabine in children was not observed using a cytarabine dose of 1 g/m2 given twice daily for 7 days with daunorubicin and thioguanine.[18] A second pediatric study also failed to detect a benefit for high-dose cytarabine over standard-dose cytarabine when used during induction therapy.[19]

In children with high-risk AML, the estimated incidence of severe bacterial infections is 50% to 60%, and the estimated incidence of invasive fungal infections is 7.0% to 12.5%.[20][21][22] Several approaches have been examined in terms of reducing the morbidity and mortality from infection in children with AML.

Hematopoietic growth factors such as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) during AML induction therapy have been evaluated in multiple placebo-controlled studies in adults with AML in attempts to reduce the toxicity associated with prolonged myelosuppression.[7][23] These studies have generally shown a reduction of several days in the duration of neutropenia with the use of either G-CSF or GM-CSF [23] but have not shown significant effects on treatment-related mortality or OS.[23] A randomized study in children with AML that evaluated G-CSF administered after induction chemotherapy showed a reduction in duration of neutropenia but no difference in infectious complications or mortality.[24] A higher relapse rate has been reported for children with AML expressing the differentiation defective G-CSF receptor isoform IV.[25] Thus, routine prophylactic use of hematopoietic growth factors is not recommended for children with AML.

The use of antibacterial prophylaxis in children undergoing treatment for AML has been supported by several studies. A retrospective study from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (SJCRH) in patients with AML reported that the use of intravenous cefepime or vancomycin in conjunction with oral ciprofloxacin or a cephalosporin significantly reduced the incidence of bacterial infection and sepsis compared with patients receiving only oral or no antibiotic prophylaxis.[26] A retrospective report from the COG-AAML0531 (NCT00372593) trial demonstrated significant reductions in sterile-site bacterial infection and particularly gram-positive, sterile-site infections were both associated with the use of antibacterial prophylaxis.[27] Of note, this study also reported that prophylactic use of G-CSF reduced bacterial and Clostridium difficile infections.[27] In a study that compared the percentage of bloodstream infections or invasive fungal infections in children with ALL or AML who underwent chemotherapy and received antibacterial and antifungal prophylaxis, a significant reduction in both variables was observed compared with a historical control group that did not receive any prophylaxis.[28] While such studies suggest a benefit to the use of antibiotic prophylaxis, prospective randomized trials are needed in this pediatric group of patients.

Similarly, the role of antifungal prophylaxis has not been studied in children with AML using randomized, prospective studies. Nevertheless, two meta-analysis reports have suggested that antifungal prophylaxis in pediatric patients with AML during treatment-induced neutropenia or during bone marrow transplantation does reduce the frequency of invasive fungal infections and in some instances nonrelapse mortality.[29][30] However, another study that analyzed 1,024 patients with AML treated on the COG-AAML0531 (NCT00372593) clinical trial reported no benefit of antifungal prophylaxis on fungal infections or nonrelapse mortality.[27] Several randomized trials in adults with AML, however, have reported significant benefit in reducing invasive fungal infection with the use of antifungal prophylaxis. Such studies have also balanced cost with adverse side effects; when effectiveness at reducing invasive fungal infection is balanced with these other factors, posaconazole, voriconazole, caspofungin, and micafungin are considered reasonable choices.[28][31][32][33][34][35]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation

The following are examples of national and/or institutional clinical trials that are currently being conducted. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  • AML08(Clofarabine Plus Cytarabine Versus Conventional Induction Therapy and a Study of Natural Killer Cell Transplantation in Newly Diagnosed AML): SJCRH is conducting a randomized trial for children with newly diagnosed AML. This trial compares two induction regimens: cytarabine/daunorubicin/etoposide (ADE) versus clofarabine/cytarabine. Responses are assessed via morphology and flow cytometry (minimal residual disease) at the end of the induction phase.
  • COG-AAML1031 (Bortezomib and Sorafenib Tosylate in Patients With Newly Diagnosed AML With or Without Mutations): COG-AAML1031 uses an ADE induction therapy backbone. For patients without FLT3-ITD–positive AML, the study is using a randomized design to evaluate whether the addition of bortezomib throughout the course of therapy improves EFS and OS. For patients with high allelic ratio FLT3-ITD–positive AML, the primary objective is to evaluate the feasibility of combining sorafenib (a small molecule FLT3 inhibitor) with standard chemotherapy. A secondary objective for this patient population is to determine the antileukemic activity of sorafenib for FLT3-ITD–positive AML.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Prophylaxis for AML

Although the presence of CNS leukemia at diagnosis (i.e., clinical neurologic features and/or leukemic cells in cerebral spinal fluid on cytocentrifuge preparation) is more common in childhood AML than in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), survival is not adversely affected.[36] This finding is perhaps related to both the higher doses of chemotherapy used in AML (with potential crossover to the CNS) and the fact that marrow disease has not yet been as effectively brought under long-term control in AML as in ALL. Children with M4 and M5 AML have the highest incidence of CNS leukemia (especially those with inv(16) or 11q23 chromosomal abnormalities). The use of some form of intrathecal chemotherapy as CNS-directed treatment is now incorporated into most protocols for the treatment of childhood AML and is considered a standard part of the treatment for AML.[37] Cranial radiation is no longer routinely employed in the treatment of children with AML.[38]

Granulocytic Sarcoma/Chloroma

Granulocytic sarcoma (chloroma) describes extramedullary collections of leukemia cells. These collections can occur, albeit rarely, as the sole evidence of leukemia. In a review of three AML studies conducted by the former Children's Cancer Group, fewer than 1% of patients had isolated granulocytic sarcoma, and 11% had granulocytic sarcoma along with marrow disease at the time of diagnosis.[39] Importantly, the patient who presents with an isolated tumor, without evidence of marrow involvement, must be treated as if there is systemic disease. Patients with isolated granulocytic sarcoma have a good prognosis if treated with current AML therapy.[39]

In a study of 1,459 children with newly diagnosed AML, patients with orbital granulocytic sarcoma and CNS granulocytic sarcoma had better survival than patients with marrow disease and granulocytic sarcoma at other sites and AML patients without any extramedullary disease.[40] The majority of patients with orbital granulocytic sarcoma have a t(8;21) abnormality, which has been associated with a favorable prognosis. The use of radiation therapy does not improve survival in patients with granulocytic sarcoma who have a complete response to chemotherapy, but may be necessary if the site(s) of granulocytic sarcoma do not show complete response to chemotherapy or for disease that recurs locally.[39]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with untreated childhood acute myeloid leukemia and other myeloid malignancies. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, et al.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 2007. Also available online. Last accessed April 04, 2014.

  2. Gibson BE, Wheatley K, Hann IM, et al.: Treatment strategy and long-term results in paediatric patients treated in consecutive UK AML trials. Leukemia 19 (12): 2130-8, 2005.

  3. Lange BJ, Smith FO, Feusner J, et al.: Outcomes in CCG-2961, a children's oncology group phase 3 trial for untreated pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the children's oncology group. Blood 111 (3): 1044-53, 2008.

  4. Creutzig U, Büchner T, Sauerland MC, et al.: Significance of age in acute myeloid leukemia patients younger than 30 years: a common analysis of the pediatric trials AML-BFM 93/98 and the adult trials AMLCG 92/99 and AMLSG HD93/98A. Cancer 112 (3): 562-71, 2008.

  5. Kaspers GJ, Creutzig U: Pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: international progress and future directions. Leukemia 19 (12): 2025-9, 2005.

  6. Gibson BE, Webb DK, Howman AJ, et al.: Results of a randomized trial in children with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia: medical research council AML12 trial. Br J Haematol 155 (3): 366-76, 2011.

  7. Creutzig U, Zimmermann M, Lehrnbecher T, et al.: Less toxicity by optimizing chemotherapy, but not by addition of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor in children and adolescents with acute myeloid leukemia: results of AML-BFM 98. J Clin Oncol 24 (27): 4499-506, 2006.

  8. Cooper TM, Franklin J, Gerbing RB, et al.: AAML03P1, a pilot study of the safety of gemtuzumab ozogamicin in combination with chemotherapy for newly diagnosed childhood acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Cancer 118 (3): 761-9, 2012.

  9. Stevens RF, Hann IM, Wheatley K, et al.: Marked improvements in outcome with chemotherapy alone in paediatric acute myeloid leukemia: results of the United Kingdom Medical Research Council's 10th AML trial. MRC Childhood Leukaemia Working Party. Br J Haematol 101 (1): 130-40, 1998.

  10. Creutzig U, Ritter J, Zimmermann M, et al.: Improved treatment results in high-risk pediatric acute myeloid leukemia patients after intensification with high-dose cytarabine and mitoxantrone: results of Study Acute Myeloid Leukemia-Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster 93. J Clin Oncol 19 (10): 2705-13, 2001.

  11. Hann IM, Stevens RF, Goldstone AH, et al.: Randomized comparison of DAT versus ADE as induction chemotherapy in children and younger adults with acute myeloid leukemia. Results of the Medical Research Council's 10th AML trial (MRC AML10). Adult and Childhood Leukaemia Working Parties of the Medical Research Council. Blood 89 (7): 2311-8, 1997.

  12. Creutzig U, Ritter J, Zimmermann M, et al.: Idarubicin improves blast cell clearance during induction therapy in children with AML: results of study AML-BFM 93. AML-BFM Study Group. Leukemia 15 (3): 348-54, 2001.

  13. Pession A, Masetti R, Rizzari C, et al.: Results of the AIEOP AML 2002/01 multicenter prospective trial for the treatment of children with acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 122 (2): 170-8, 2013.

  14. Burnett AK, Hills RK, Milligan DW, et al.: Attempts to optimize induction and consolidation treatment in acute myeloid leukemia: results of the MRC AML12 trial. J Clin Oncol 28 (4): 586-95, 2010.

  15. Creutzig U, Zimmermann M, Bourquin JP, et al.: Randomized trial comparing liposomal daunorubicin with idarubicin as induction for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: results from Study AML-BFM 2004. Blood 122 (1): 37-43, 2013.

  16. Weick JK, Kopecky KJ, Appelbaum FR, et al.: A randomized investigation of high-dose versus standard-dose cytosine arabinoside with daunorubicin in patients with previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia: a Southwest Oncology Group study. Blood 88 (8): 2841-51, 1996.

  17. Bishop JF, Matthews JP, Young GA, et al.: A randomized study of high-dose cytarabine in induction in acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 87 (5): 1710-7, 1996.

  18. Becton D, Dahl GV, Ravindranath Y, et al.: Randomized use of cyclosporin A (CsA) to modulate P-glycoprotein in children with AML in remission: Pediatric Oncology Group Study 9421. Blood 107 (4): 1315-24, 2006.

  19. Rubnitz JE, Inaba H, Dahl G, et al.: Minimal residual disease-directed therapy for childhood acute myeloid leukaemia: results of the AML02 multicentre trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (6): 543-52, 2010.

  20. Sung L, Gamis A, Alonzo TA, et al.: Infections and association with different intensity of chemotherapy in children with acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer 115 (5): 1100-8, 2009.

  21. Kaya Z, Gursel T, Kocak U, et al.: Invasive fungal infections in pediatric leukemia patients receiving fluconazole prophylaxis. Pediatr Blood Cancer 52 (4): 470-5, 2009.

  22. Kobayashi R, Kaneda M, Sato T, et al.: The clinical feature of invasive fungal infection in pediatric patients with hematologic and malignant diseases: a 10-year analysis at a single institution at Japan. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 30 (12): 886-90, 2008.

  23. Ozer H, Armitage JO, Bennett CL, et al.: 2000 update of recommendations for the use of hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors: evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines. American Society of Clinical Oncology Growth Factors Expert Panel. J Clin Oncol 18 (20): 3558-85, 2000.

  24. Lehrnbecher T, Zimmermann M, Reinhardt D, et al.: Prophylactic human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor after induction therapy in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 109 (3): 936-43, 2007.

  25. Ehlers S, Herbst C, Zimmermann M, et al.: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) treatment of childhood acute myeloid leukemias that overexpress the differentiation-defective G-CSF receptor isoform IV is associated with a higher incidence of relapse. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2591-7, 2010.

  26. Kurt B, Flynn P, Shenep JL, et al.: Prophylactic antibiotics reduce morbidity due to septicemia during intensive treatment for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer 113 (2): 376-82, 2008.

  27. Sung L, Aplenc R, Alonzo TA, et al.: Effectiveness of supportive care measures to reduce infections in pediatric AML: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Blood 121 (18): 3573-7, 2013.

  28. Yeh TC, Liu HC, Hou JY, et al.: Severe infections in children with acute leukemia undergoing intensive chemotherapy can successfully be prevented by ciprofloxacin, voriconazole, or micafungin prophylaxis. Cancer 120 (8): 1255-62, 2014.

  29. Ethier MC, Science M, Beyene J, et al.: Mould-active compared with fluconazole prophylaxis to prevent invasive fungal diseases in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Cancer 106 (10): 1626-37, 2012.

  30. Robenshtok E, Gafter-Gvili A, Goldberg E, et al.: Antifungal prophylaxis in cancer patients after chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Oncol 25 (34): 5471-89, 2007.

  31. Mandhaniya S, Swaroop C, Thulkar S, et al.: Oral voriconazole versus intravenous low dose amphotericin B for primary antifungal prophylaxis in pediatric acute leukemia induction: a prospective, randomized, clinical study. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 33 (8): e333-41, 2011.

  32. Mattiuzzi GN, Kantarjian H, Faderl S, et al.: Amphotericin B lipid complex as prophylaxis of invasive fungal infections in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome undergoing induction chemotherapy. Cancer 100 (3): 581-9, 2004.

  33. Mattiuzzi GN, Kantarjian H, O'Brien S, et al.: Intravenous itraconazole for prophylaxis of systemic fungal infections in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome undergoing induction chemotherapy. Cancer 100 (3): 568-73, 2004.

  34. Tacke D, Buchheidt D, Karthaus M, et al.: Primary prophylaxis of invasive fungal infections in patients with haematologic malignancies. 2014 update of the recommendations of the Infectious Diseases Working Party of the German Society for Haematology and Oncology. Ann Hematol 93 (9): 1449-56, 2014.

  35. Grau S, de la Cámara R, Sabater FJ, et al.: Cost-effectiveness of posaconazole versus fluconazole or itraconazole in the prevention of invasive fungal infections among high-risk neutropenic patients in Spain. BMC Infect Dis 12: 83, 2012.

  36. Johnston DL, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: The presence of central nervous system disease at diagnosis in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia does not affect survival: a Children's Oncology Group study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 55 (3): 414-20, 2010.

  37. Pui CH, Dahl GV, Kalwinsky DK, et al.: Central nervous system leukemia in children with acute nonlymphoblastic leukemia. Blood 66 (5): 1062-7, 1985.

  38. Creutzig U, Zimmermann M, Bourquin JP, et al.: CNS irradiation in pediatric acute myleoid leukemia: equal results by 12 or 18 Gy in studies AML-BFM98 and 2004. Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (6): 986-92, 2011.

  39. Dusenbery KE, Howells WB, Arthur DC, et al.: Extramedullary leukemia in children with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Children's Cancer Group. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 25 (10): 760-8, 2003.

  40. Johnston DL, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: Superior outcome of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia patients with orbital and CNS myeloid sarcoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 58 (4): 519-24, 2012.

Postremission Therapy for AML

A major challenge in the treatment of children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is to prolong the duration of the initial remission with additional chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). In practice, most patients are treated with intensive chemotherapy after remission is achieved, as only a small subset have a matched-family donor (MFD). Such therapy includes some of the drugs used in induction while also introducing non-cross–resistant drugs and commonly high-dose cytarabine. Studies in adults with AML have demonstrated that consolidation with a high-dose cytarabine regimen improves outcome compared with consolidation with a standard-dose cytarabine regimen, particularly in patients with inv(16) and t(8;21) AML subtypes.[1][2] Randomized studies evaluating the contribution of high-dose cytarabine to postremission therapy have not been conducted in children, but studies employing historical controls suggest that consolidation with a high-dose cytarabine regimen improves outcome compared with less intensive consolidation therapies.[3][4][5]

The optimal number of postremission courses of therapy remains unclear, but appears to require at least three courses of intensive therapy, including the induction course.[6] A United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC) study randomly assigned adult and pediatric patients to four versus five courses of intensive therapy. Five courses did not show an advantage in relapse-free and overall survival (OS).[7][8][Level of evidence: 1iiA]

The use of HSCT in first remission has been under evaluation since the late 1970s, and evidence-based appraisals concerning indications for autologous and allogeneic HSCT have been published.[9] Prospective trials of transplantation in children with AML suggest that overall 60% to 70% of children with HLA-matched donors available who undergo allogeneic HSCT during their first remission experience long-term remissions,[10][11] with the caveat that outcome following allogeneic HSCT is dependent upon risk-classification status.[12] In prospective trials of allogeneic HSCT compared with chemotherapy and/or autologous HSCT, a superior disease-free survival (DFS) has been observed for patients who were assigned to allogeneic transplantation based on availability of a family 6/6 or 5/6 HLA-matched donor in adults and children.[10][11][13][14][15][16][17] However, the superiority of allogeneic HSCT over chemotherapy has not always been observed.[18] Several large cooperative group clinical trials for children with AML have found no benefit for autologous HSCT over intensive chemotherapy.[10][11][13][15]

Current application of allogeneic HSCT involves incorporation of risk classification into the determination of whether transplantation should be pursued in first remission. Because of the improved outcome in patients with favorable prognostic features receiving contemporary chemotherapy regimens and the lack of demonstrable superiority for HSCT in this patient population, it is now recommended that this group of patients receive MFD HSCT only after first relapse and the achievement of a second complete remission (CR).[9][12][19][20]

There is conflicting evidence regarding the role of allogeneic HSCT in first remission for patients with intermediate-risk characteristics:

  • A study combining the results of the POG-8821, CCG-2891, COG-2961, and MRC-Leuk-AML-10-Child studies identified a DFS and OS advantage for allogeneic HSCT in patients with intermediate-risk AML but not favorable-risk (inv(16) and t(8;21)) or poor-risk (del(5q), monosomy 5 or 7, or more than 15% blasts after first induction for POG/CCG studies), as well as including 3q abnormalities and complex cytogenetics in the MRC study.[12] Weaknesses of this study include the large percentage of patients not assigned to a risk group and the relatively low EFS and OS rates for patients with intermediate risk assigned to chemotherapy compared with results observed in more recent clinical trials.[7][21]
  • The AML99 clinical trial from the Japanese Childhood AML Cooperative Study Group observed a significant difference in DFS for intermediate risk patients assigned to MFD HSCT, but there was not a significant difference in OS.[22]
  • The AML-BFM 99 clinical trial demonstrated no significant difference for intermediate risk patients in either DFS or OS for patients assigned to MFD HSCT versus those assigned to chemotherapy.[18]

Given the improved outcome for patients with intermediate-risk AML in recent clinical trials and the burden of acute and chronic toxicities associated with allogeneic transplantation, many childhood AML treatment groups (including the Children's Oncology Group [COG]) employ chemotherapy for intermediate-risk patients in first remission and reserve allogeneic HSCT for use following potential relapse.[7][22][23]

There are conflicting data regarding the role of allogeneic HSCT in first remission for patients with high-risk disease, complicated by the differing definitions of high risk used by different study groups.

  • A retrospective analysis from COG and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) data on patients with AML and high-risk cytogenetics, defined as monosomy 7/del(7q), monosomy 5/del(5q), abnormalities of 3q, t(6;9), or complex karyotypes comparing chemotherapy only with minimal residual disease (MRD) donor and matched-unrelated donor (MUD) stem cell transplantation demonstrated no difference in the 5-year OS among the three treatment groups.[24]
  • A Nordic Society for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology study reported that time-intensive reinduction therapy followed by transplant with best available donor for patients whose AML did not respond to induction therapy resulted in 70% survival at a median follow-up of 2.6 years.[25][Level of evidence: 2A]
  • A single-institution retrospective study of 50 consecutive patients (aged 0–30 years) with high-risk AML (FLT3-ITD, 11q23 MLL rearrangements, presence of chromosome 5 or 7 abnormalities, induction failure, persistent disease) reported a 5-year 72% OS and a 69% leukemia-free survival; they also reported a 17% treatment-related mortality.[26]
  • A subgroup analysis from the AML-BFM 98 clinical trial demonstrated improved survival rates for patients with 11q23 aberrations allocated to allogeneic HSCT, but not for patients without 11q23 aberrations.[18]
  • For children with FLT3-ITD (high allelic ratio), those who received MFD HSCT (n = 6) had higher OS than who received standard chemotherapy (n = 28); however the number of cases studied limited the ability to draw conclusions.[27]

Many, but not all, pediatric clinical trial groups prescribe allogeneic HSCT for high-risk patients in first remission.[20] For example, the COG frontline AML clinical trial (COG-AAML1031) prescribes allogeneic HSCT in first remission only for patients with predicted high risk of treatment failure based on unfavorable cytogenetic and molecular characteristics and elevated end-of-induction MRD levels. On the other hand, the AML-BFM 2004 clinical trial restricts allogeneic HSCT to patients in second CR and to refractory AML based on results from their AML-BFM 98 study showing no improvement in DFS or OS for high-risk patients receiving allogeneic HSCT in first CR and on the ability of HSCT in second CR to successfully treat a substantial proportion of patients.[18][28] Additionally, late sequelae (e.g., cardiomyopathy, skeletal anomalies, and liver dysfunction or cirrhosis) were increased for children undergoing allogeneic HSCT in first remission on the AML-BFM 98 study.[18]

Because definitions of high-, intermediate-, and low-risk AML are evolving due to the ongoing association of molecular characteristics of the tumor with outcome (e.g., FLT-3 internal tandem duplications, WT1 mutations, and NPM1 mutations) as well as response to therapy (e.g., MRD assessments postinduction therapy), further analysis of subpopulations of patients treated with allogeneic HSCT will be an ongoing need in current and future clinical trials.

If transplant is chosen in first CR, the optimal preparative regimen and source of donor cells has not been determined, although alternative donor sources, including haploidentical donors, are being studied.[17] Of note, there are no data that suggest total-body irradiation (TBI) is superior to busulfan-based myeloablative regimens.[18][19] A randomized trial comparing busulfan plus fludarabine versus busulfan plus cyclophosphamide as a preparative regimen for AML in first CR demonstrated that the former regimen was associated with less toxicity and comparable DFS and OS.[29] In addition, a large prospective CIBMTR cohort study of children and adults with AML, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) showed superior survival of patients with “early-stage” disease (chronic-phase CML, first CR AML, and MDS-refractory anemia) with busulfan-based regimens compared with TBI.[30]

Maintenance chemotherapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia.[31] In other subtypes, there are no data that demonstrate that maintenance therapy given after intensive postremission therapy significantly prolongs remission duration. Maintenance chemotherapy failed to show benefit in two randomized studies,[3][32] and maintenance therapy with interleukin-2 also proved ineffective.[6]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

The following are examples of national and/or institutional clinical trials that are currently being conducted. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  • AML08(Clofarabine Plus Cytarabine Versus Conventional Induction Therapy and a Study of Natural Killer Cell Transplantation in Newly Diagnosed AML): St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is conducting a randomized trial for children with newly diagnosed AML in which the efficacy of postchemotherapy NK cell transplantation is being assessed after five cycles of chemotherapy.
  • COG-AAML1031 (Bortezomib and Sorafenib Tosylate in Patients With Newly Diagnosed AML With or Without Mutations): This is a phase III COG study designed to answer the question of whether the addition of the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib to chemotherapy during induction and postremission therapy improves outcome; in addition, this study will test whether the addition of sorafenib to chemotherapy along with HSCT for patients with high-allelic ratio FLT3-ITD–positive AML improves outcome compared with historical controls. This study will also utilize MRD determination at the end of induction, in addition to cytogenetics and molecular markers, to stratify postremission therapy.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood acute myeloid leukemia in remission. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Mayer RJ, Davis RB, Schiffer CA, et al.: Intensive postremission chemotherapy in adults with acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer and Leukemia Group B. N Engl J Med 331 (14): 896-903, 1994.

  2. Cassileth PA, Lynch E, Hines JD, et al.: Varying intensity of postremission therapy in acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 79 (8): 1924-30, 1992.

  3. Wells RJ, Woods WG, Buckley JD, et al.: Treatment of newly diagnosed children and adolescents with acute myeloid leukemia: a Childrens Cancer Group study. J Clin Oncol 12 (11): 2367-77, 1994.

  4. Wells RJ, Woods WG, Lampkin BC, et al.: Impact of high-dose cytarabine and asparaginase intensification on childhood acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Childrens Cancer Group. J Clin Oncol 11 (3): 538-45, 1993.

  5. Creutzig U, Ritter J, Zimmermann M, et al.: Improved treatment results in high-risk pediatric acute myeloid leukemia patients after intensification with high-dose cytarabine and mitoxantrone: results of Study Acute Myeloid Leukemia-Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster 93. J Clin Oncol 19 (10): 2705-13, 2001.

  6. Lange BJ, Smith FO, Feusner J, et al.: Outcomes in CCG-2961, a children's oncology group phase 3 trial for untreated pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the children's oncology group. Blood 111 (3): 1044-53, 2008.

  7. Gibson BE, Webb DK, Howman AJ, et al.: Results of a randomized trial in children with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia: medical research council AML12 trial. Br J Haematol 155 (3): 366-76, 2011.

  8. Burnett AK, Hills RK, Milligan DW, et al.: Attempts to optimize induction and consolidation treatment in acute myeloid leukemia: results of the MRC AML12 trial. J Clin Oncol 28 (4): 586-95, 2010.

  9. Oliansky DM, Rizzo JD, Aplan PD, et al.: The role of cytotoxic therapy with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the therapy of acute myeloid leukemia in children: an evidence-based review. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 13 (1): 1-25, 2007.

  10. Woods WG, Neudorf S, Gold S, et al.: A comparison of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, autologous bone marrow transplantation, and aggressive chemotherapy in children with acute myeloid leukemia in remission. Blood 97 (1): 56-62, 2001.

  11. Stevens RF, Hann IM, Wheatley K, et al.: Marked improvements in outcome with chemotherapy alone in paediatric acute myeloid leukemia: results of the United Kingdom Medical Research Council's 10th AML trial. MRC Childhood Leukaemia Working Party. Br J Haematol 101 (1): 130-40, 1998.

  12. Horan JT, Alonzo TA, Lyman GH, et al.: Impact of disease risk on efficacy of matched related bone marrow transplantation for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: the Children's Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 26 (35): 5797-801, 2008.

  13. Ravindranath Y, Yeager AM, Chang MN, et al.: Autologous bone marrow transplantation versus intensive consolidation chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia in childhood. Pediatric Oncology Group. N Engl J Med 334 (22): 1428-34, 1996.

  14. Feig SA, Lampkin B, Nesbit ME, et al.: Outcome of BMT during first complete remission of AML: a comparison of two sequential studies by the Children's Cancer Group. Bone Marrow Transplant 12 (1): 65-71, 1993.

  15. Amadori S, Testi AM, Aricò M, et al.: Prospective comparative study of bone marrow transplantation and postremission chemotherapy for childhood acute myelogenous leukemia. The Associazione Italiana Ematologia ed Oncologia Pediatrica Cooperative Group. J Clin Oncol 11 (6): 1046-54, 1993.

  16. Bleakley M, Lau L, Shaw PJ, et al.: Bone marrow transplantation for paediatric AML in first remission: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Bone Marrow Transplant 29 (10): 843-52, 2002.

  17. Koreth J, Schlenk R, Kopecky KJ, et al.: Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for acute myeloid leukemia in first complete remission: systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective clinical trials. JAMA 301 (22): 2349-61, 2009.

  18. Klusmann JH, Reinhardt D, Zimmermann M, et al.: The role of matched sibling donor allogeneic stem cell transplantation in pediatric high-risk acute myeloid leukemia: results from the AML-BFM 98 study. Haematologica 97 (1): 21-9, 2012.

  19. Creutzig U, Reinhardt D: Current controversies: which patients with acute myeloid leukaemia should receive a bone marrow transplantation?--a European view. Br J Haematol 118 (2): 365-77, 2002.

  20. Niewerth D, Creutzig U, Bierings MB, et al.: A review on allogeneic stem cell transplantation for newly diagnosed pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Blood 116 (13): 2205-14, 2010.

  21. Creutzig U, Zimmermann M, Bourquin JP, et al.: Randomized trial comparing liposomal daunorubicin with idarubicin as induction for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: results from Study AML-BFM 2004. Blood 122 (1): 37-43, 2013.

  22. Tsukimoto I, Tawa A, Horibe K, et al.: Risk-stratified therapy and the intensive use of cytarabine improves the outcome in childhood acute myeloid leukemia: the AML99 trial from the Japanese Childhood AML Cooperative Study Group. J Clin Oncol 27 (24): 4007-13, 2009.

  23. Abrahamsson J, Forestier E, Heldrup J, et al.: Response-guided induction therapy in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia with excellent remission rate. J Clin Oncol 29 (3): 310-5, 2011.

  24. Kelly MJ, Horan JT, Alonzo TA, et al.: Comparable survival for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia with poor-risk cytogenetics following chemotherapy, matched related donor, or unrelated donor transplantation. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (2): 269-75, 2014.

  25. Wareham NE, Heilmann C, Abrahamsson J, et al.: Outcome of poor response paediatric AML using early SCT. Eur J Haematol 90 (3): 187-94, 2013.

  26. Burke MJ, Wagner JE, Cao Q, et al.: Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation in first remission abrogates poor outcomes associated with high-risk pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 19 (7): 1021-5, 2013.

  27. Meshinchi S, Alonzo TA, Stirewalt DL, et al.: Clinical implications of FLT3 mutations in pediatric AML. Blood 108 (12): 3654-61, 2006.

  28. Beier R, Albert MH, Bader P, et al.: Allo-SCT using BU, CY and melphalan for children with AML in second CR. Bone Marrow Transplant 48 (5): 651-6, 2013.

  29. Liu H, Zhai X, Song Z, et al.: Busulfan plus fludarabine as a myeloablative conditioning regimen compared with busulfan plus cyclophosphamide for acute myeloid leukemia in first complete remission undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a prospective and multicenter study. J Hematol Oncol 6: 15, 2013.

  30. Bredeson C, LeRademacher J, Kato K, et al.: Prospective cohort study comparing intravenous busulfan to total body irradiation in hematopoietic cell transplantation. Blood 122 (24): 3871-8, 2013.

  31. Fenaux P, Chastang C, Chevret S, et al.: A randomized comparison of all transretinoic acid (ATRA) followed by chemotherapy and ATRA plus chemotherapy and the role of maintenance therapy in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. The European APL Group. Blood 94 (4): 1192-200, 1999.

  32. Perel Y, Auvrignon A, Leblanc T, et al.: Treatment of childhood acute myeloblastic leukemia: dose intensification improves outcome and maintenance therapy is of no benefit--multicenter studies of the French LAME (Leucémie Aiguë Myéloblastique Enfant) Cooperative Group. Leukemia 19 (12): 2082-9, 2005.

Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia

Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a distinct subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is treated differently than other types of AML. Optimal treatment requires rapid initiation of treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and supportive care measures.[1][2] The characteristic chromosomal abnormality associated with APL is t(15;17). This translocation involves a breakpoint that includes the retinoic acid receptor and leads to production of the promyelocytic leukemia (PML)-retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARA) fusion protein.[3] Patients with a suspected diagnosis of APL can have their diagnosis confirmed by detection of the PML-RARA fusion (e.g., through fluorescence in situ hybridization [FISH], reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction [RT–PCR], or conventional cytogenetics). An immunofluorescence method using an anti-PML monoclonal antibody can rapidly establish the presence of the PML-RARA fusion protein based on the characteristic distribution pattern of PML that occurs in the presence of the fusion protein.[4][5][6]

Clinically, APL is characterized by severe coagulopathy that is often present at the time of diagnosis.[7] Mortality during induction (particularly with cytotoxic agents used alone) caused by bleeding complications is more common in this subtype than in other French-American-British classifications.[8][9] A lumbar puncture at diagnosis should not be performed until evidence of coagulopathy has resolved. Initiation of ATRA therapy is strongly recommended as soon as APL is suspected based on morphological and clinical presentation,[1][10] because ATRA has been shown to ameliorate bleeding risk for patients with APL.[11] A retrospective analysis identified an increase in early death due to hemorrhage in patients with APL in whom ATRA introduction was delayed.[12]

APL in children is generally similar to APL in adults, though children have a higher incidence of hyperleukocytosis (defined as white blood cell [WBC] count higher than 10 × 109/L) and a higher incidence of the microgranular morphologic subtype.[13][14][15][16] Similar to adults, children with WBC counts less than 10 × 109/L at diagnosis have significantly better outcome than patients with higher WBC counts.[14][15][17] The prognostic significance of WBC count is used in defining high-risk and low-risk patient populations for assigning postinduction treatment, with high-risk patients most commonly defined by WBC of 10 × 109/L or greater.[18][19]FLT3 mutations (either internal tandem duplications or kinase domain mutations) are observed in 40% to 50% of APL cases, with the presence of FLT3 mutations correlating with higher WBC counts and the microgranular variant (M3v) subtype.[20][21][22][23][24]FLT3 mutation has been associated with an increased risk of induction death, and in some reports, an increased risk of treatment failure.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26] Data from a combined analysis of two European trials demonstrated that children younger than 4 years with APL presented with higher WBC counts, had an increased incidence of the M3v subtype, and had a higher cumulative incidence of relapse and fatal cardiac toxicity during remission than did adolescents and adults; however, overall survival (OS) was similar.[27][Level of evidence: 3iiA]

The basis for current treatment programs for APL is the sensitivity of leukemia cells from patients with APL to the differentiation-inducing effects of ATRA. The dramatic efficacy of ATRA against APL results from the ability of pharmacologic doses of ATRA to overcome the repression of signaling caused by the PML-RARA fusion protein at physiologic ATRA concentrations. Restoration of signaling leads to differentiation of APL cells and then to postmaturation apoptosis.[28] Most patients with APL achieve a complete remission (CR) when treated with ATRA, though single-agent ATRA is generally not curative.[29][30] A series of randomized clinical trials defined the benefit of combining ATRA with chemotherapy during induction therapy and also the utility of using ATRA as maintenance therapy.[31][32][33] ATRA is also commonly used as a component of postinduction consolidation therapy, with treatment regimens that include several additional courses of ATRA given with an anthracycline with or without cytarabine.[15][18][19][34] Evidence for the benefit of giving ATRA with consolidation chemotherapy is derived from historical comparisons of results from adult APL clinical trials showing significant improvements in outcome for patients receiving ATRA given in conjunction with chemotherapy compared with chemotherapy alone.[18][19] For children with APL, survival rates exceeding 80% are now achievable using treatment programs that prescribe the rapid initiation of ATRA and appropriate supportive care measures.[1][13][14][15][18][19][34] For patients in complete remission for more than 5 years, relapse is extremely rare.[35][Level of evidence: 1iiDi]

The standard approach to treating children with APL builds upon adult clinical trial results and begins with induction therapy using ATRA given in combination with an anthracycline administered with or without cytarabine. One regimen uses ATRA in conjunction with standard-dose cytarabine and daunorubicin,[13][36] while another utilizes idarubicin and ATRA without cytarabine for remission induction.[14][15] Almost all children with APL treated with one of these approaches achieves CR in the absence of coagulopathy-related mortality.[14][15][34][36] Assessment of response to induction therapy in the first month of treatment using morphologic and molecular criteria may provide misleading results as delayed persistence of differentiating leukemia cells can occur in patients who will ultimately achieve CR.[1][2] Alterations in planned treatment based on these early observations are not appropriate as resistance of APL to ATRA plus anthracycline-containing regimens is extremely rare.[19][37]

Consolidation therapy has typically included ATRA given with an anthracycline with or without cytarabine. The role of cytarabine in consolidation therapy regimens is controversial. While a randomized study addressing the contribution of cytarabine to a daunorubicin plus ATRA regimen in adults with low-risk APL showed a benefit for the addition of cytarabine,[38] regimens using high-dose anthracycline appear to produce as good or better results for low-risk patients.[39] For high-risk patients (WBC ≥10 × 109/L), a historical comparison of the LPA2005 trial to the preceding PETHEMA LPA99 trial suggested that the addition of cytarabine to anthracycline-ATRA combinations can lower the relapse rate.[37] The results of the AIDA-2000 trial confirmed that the cumulative incidence of relapse for adult patients with high-risk disease can be reduced to approximately 10% with consolidation regimens containing ATRA, anthracyclines, and cytarabine.[19]

Maintenance therapy includes ATRA plus 6-mercaptopurine and methotrexate; this combination showed an advantage over ATRA alone in randomized trials in adults with APL.[31][40] A randomized study in adults has reported that maintenance therapy does not improve event-free survival (EFS) for patients with APL who achieve a complete molecular remission at the end of consolidation.[41] However, the utility of maintenance therapy in APL may be dependent on multiple factors (e.g., risk group, the anthracycline used during induction, the intensity of induction and consolidation therapy, etc.), and at this time maintenance therapy remains standard for children with APL. Because of the favorable outcomes observed with chemotherapy plus ATRA (EFS rates of 70%–80%), hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is not recommended in first CR.

Central nervous system (CNS) relapse is uncommon for patients with APL, particularly for those with WBC count less than 10 × 109/L.[42][43] In two clinical trials enrolling over 1,400 adults with APL in which CNS prophylaxis was not administered, the cumulative incidence of CNS relapse was less than 1% for patients with WBC less than 10 × 109/L, while it was approximately 5% for those with WBC of 10 × 109/L or greater.[42][43] In addition to high WBC at diagnosis, CNS hemorrhage during induction is also a risk factor for CNS relapse.[43] A review of published cases of pediatric APL also observed low rates of CNS relapse. Because of the low incidence of CNS relapse among children with APL presenting with WBC less than 10 × 109/L, CNS surveillance and prophylactic CNS therapy may not be needed for this group of patients,[44] although there is no consensus on this topic.[45]

Arsenic trioxide has also been identified as an active agent in patients with APL, and there are now data for its use as induction therapy, consolidation therapy, and in the treatment of patients with relapsed APL:

  • For adults with relapsed APL, approximately 85% achieve morphologic remission after treatment with this agent.[46][47][48] Arsenic trioxide is well tolerated in children with relapsed APL. The toxicity profile and response rates in children are similar to that observed in adults.[49]
  • In adults with newly diagnosed APL, the addition of two consolidation courses of arsenic trioxide to a standard APL treatment regimen resulted in a significant improvement in EFS (80% vs. 63% at 3 years; P < .0001) and disease-free survival (90% vs. 70% at 3 years; P < .0001), although the outcome of patients who did not receive arsenic trioxide was inferior to the results obtained in the GIMEMA or PETHEMA trials.[50] The Children's Oncology Group is evaluating arsenic trioxide as a consolidation therapy for newly diagnosed children with APL.
  • The concurrent use of arsenic trioxide and ATRA in newly diagnosed patients with APL results in high rates of CR.[51][52][53] Early experience in children with newly diagnosed APL also shows high rates of CR to arsenic trioxide, either as a single agent or given with ATRA. Results of a meta-analysis of seven published studies in adult APL patients suggest that the combination of arsenic trioxide and ATRA may be more effective than arsenic trioxide alone in inducing CR.[54] The impact of arsenic induction (either alone or with ATRA) on EFS and OS has not been well characterized and will require larger randomized studies. [55][56]
  • Arsenic trioxide was evaluated as a component of induction therapy with idarubicin and ATRA in the APML4 clinical trial, which enrolled both children and adults (N = 124 evaluable patients).[25] Patients received two courses of consolidation therapy with arsenic trioxide and ATRA (but no anthracycline) and maintenance therapy with ATRA, 6-mercaptopurine, and methotrexate. The 2-year rate for freedom from relapse was 97.5%, failure-free survival (FFS) was 88.1%, and OS was 93.2%. These results are superior for FFS and freedom from relapse when compared with the predecessor clinical trial (APML3) that did not use arsenic trioxide.
  • A German and Italian phase III clinical trial compared ATRA plus chemotherapy with ATRA plus arsenic trioxide in adults with APL classified as low to intermediate risk (WBC ≤ 10 × 109/L).[57] Patients were randomly assigned to receive either ATRA plus arsenic trioxide for induction and consolidation therapy or standard ATRA-idarubicin induction therapy followed by three cycles of consolidation therapy with ATRA plus chemotherapy and maintenance therapy with low-dose chemotherapy and ATRA.

    All patients receiving ATRA plus arsenic trioxide (n = 77) achieved CR at the end of induction therapy, while 95% of patients receiving ATRA plus chemotherapy (n = 79) achieved CR. EFS rates were 97% in the ATRA-arsenic trioxide group compared with 86% in the ATRA-chemotherapy group (P = .02). Two-year OS probability was 99% (95% confidence interval [CI], 96–100) in the ATRA-arsenic trioxide group and 91% (95% CI, 85–97) in the ATRA-chemotherapy group (P = .02). These results indicate that low- to intermediate-risk APL is curable for a high percentage of patients without conventional chemotherapy.

Because arsenic trioxide causes QT interval prolongation that can lead to life-threatening arrhythmias (e.g., torsades de pointes),[58] it is essential to monitor electrolytes closely in patients receiving arsenic trioxide and to maintain potassium and magnesium values at midnormal ranges.[59]

The induction and consolidation therapies currently employed result in molecular remission as measured by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) for PML-RARA in the large majority of APL patients, with 1% or fewer showing molecular evidence of disease at the end of consolidation therapy.[19][37] While two negative RT-PCR assays after completion of therapy are associated with long-term remission,[60] conversion from negative to RT-PCR positivity is highly predictive of subsequent hematologic relapse.[61] Patients with persistent or relapsing disease based upon PML-RARA RT-PCR measurement may benefit from intervention with relapse therapies (refer to the Recurrent Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) subsection of the Recurrent Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Other Myeloid Malignancies section of this summary for more information).

Molecular Variants of APL Other than PML-RARA

Uncommon molecular variants of APL produce fusion proteins that join distinctive gene partners (e.g., PLZF, NPM, STAT5B, and NuMA) to RARA.[62] Recognition of these rare variants is important as they differ in their sensitivity to ATRA and to arsenic trioxide.[63] The PLZF-RARA variant, characterized by t(11;17)(q23;q21), represents about 0.8% of APL, expresses surface CD56, and has very fine granules compared with t(15;17) APL.[64][65][66] APL with PLZF-RARA has been associated with a poor prognosis and does not usually respond to ATRA or to arsenic trioxide.[63][64][65][66] The rare APL variants with NPM-RARA (t(5;17)(q35;q21)) or with NuMA-RARA (t(11;17)(q13;q21)) translocations may still be responsive to ATRA.[63][67][68][69][70]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood acute promyelocytic leukemia (M3). The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

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  31. Fenaux P, Chastang C, Chevret S, et al.: A randomized comparison of all transretinoic acid (ATRA) followed by chemotherapy and ATRA plus chemotherapy and the role of maintenance therapy in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. The European APL Group. Blood 94 (4): 1192-200, 1999.

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  34. Imaizumi M, Tawa A, Hanada R, et al.: Prospective study of a therapeutic regimen with all-trans retinoic acid and anthracyclines in combination of cytarabine in children with acute promyelocytic leukaemia: the Japanese childhood acute myeloid leukaemia cooperative study. Br J Haematol 152 (1): 89-98, 2011.

  35. Douer D, Zickl LN, Schiffer CA, et al.: All-trans retinoic acid and late relapses in acute promyelocytic leukemia: very long-term follow-up of the North American Intergroup Study I0129. Leuk Res 37 (7): 795-801, 2013.

  36. Gregory J, Kim H, Alonzo T, et al.: Treatment of children with acute promyelocytic leukemia: results of the first North American Intergroup trial INT0129. Pediatr Blood Cancer 53 (6): 1005-10, 2009.

  37. Sanz MA, Montesinos P, Rayón C, et al.: Risk-adapted treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia based on all-trans retinoic acid and anthracycline with addition of cytarabine in consolidation therapy for high-risk patients: further improvements in treatment outcome. Blood 115 (25): 5137-46, 2010.

  38. Adès L, Chevret S, Raffoux E, et al.: Is cytarabine useful in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia? Results of a randomized trial from the European Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Group. J Clin Oncol 24 (36): 5703-10, 2006.

  39. Adès L, Sanz MA, Chevret S, et al.: Treatment of newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL): a comparison of French-Belgian-Swiss and PETHEMA results. Blood 111 (3): 1078-84, 2008.

  40. Sanz M, Martínez JA, Barragán E, et al.: All-trans retinoic acid and low-dose chemotherapy for acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Br J Haematol 109 (4): 896-7, 2000.

  41. Avvisati G, Lo-Coco F, Paoloni FP, et al.: AIDA 0493 protocol for newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia: very long-term results and role of maintenance. Blood 117 (18): 4716-25, 2011.

  42. de Botton S, Sanz MA, Chevret S, et al.: Extramedullary relapse in acute promyelocytic leukemia treated with all-trans retinoic acid and chemotherapy. Leukemia 20 (1): 35-41, 2006.

  43. Montesinos P, Díaz-Mediavilla J, Debén G, et al.: Central nervous system involvement at first relapse in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia treated with all-trans retinoic acid and anthracycline monochemotherapy without intrathecal prophylaxis. Haematologica 94 (9): 1242-9, 2009.

  44. Chow J, Feusner J: Isolated central nervous system recurrence of acute promyelocytic leukemia in children. Pediatr Blood Cancer 52 (1): 11-3, 2009.

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  46. Soignet SL, Maslak P, Wang ZG, et al.: Complete remission after treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia with arsenic trioxide. N Engl J Med 339 (19): 1341-8, 1998.

  47. Niu C, Yan H, Yu T, et al.: Studies on treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia with arsenic trioxide: remission induction, follow-up, and molecular monitoring in 11 newly diagnosed and 47 relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia patients. Blood 94 (10): 3315-24, 1999.

  48. Shen ZX, Chen GQ, Ni JH, et al.: Use of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL): II. Clinical efficacy and pharmacokinetics in relapsed patients. Blood 89 (9): 3354-60, 1997.

  49. Fox E, Razzouk BI, Widemann BC, et al.: Phase 1 trial and pharmacokinetic study of arsenic trioxide in children and adolescents with refractory or relapsed acute leukemia, including acute promyelocytic leukemia or lymphoma. Blood 111 (2): 566-73, 2008.

  50. Powell BL, Moser B, Stock W, et al.: Effect of consolidation with arsenic trioxide (As2O3) on event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) among patients with newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL): North American Intergroup Protocol C9710. [Abstract] J Clin Oncol 25 (Suppl 18): A-2, 2007.

  51. Shen ZX, Shi ZZ, Fang J, et al.: All-trans retinoic acid/As2O3 combination yields a high quality remission and survival in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101 (15): 5328-35, 2004.

  52. Ravandi F, Estey E, Jones D, et al.: Effective treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia with all-trans-retinoic acid, arsenic trioxide, and gemtuzumab ozogamicin. J Clin Oncol 27 (4): 504-10, 2009.

  53. Hu J, Liu YF, Wu CF, et al.: Long-term efficacy and safety of all-trans retinoic acid/arsenic trioxide-based therapy in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106 (9): 3342-7, 2009.

  54. Wang H, Chen XY, Wang BS, et al.: The efficacy and safety of arsenic trioxide with or without all-trans retinoic acid for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia: a meta-analysis. Leuk Res 35 (9): 1170-7, 2011.

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  57. Lo-Coco F, Avvisati G, Vignetti M, et al.: Retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide for acute promyelocytic leukemia. N Engl J Med 369 (2): 111-21, 2013.

  58. Unnikrishnan D, Dutcher JP, Varshneya N, et al.: Torsades de pointes in 3 patients with leukemia treated with arsenic trioxide. Blood 97 (5): 1514-6, 2001.

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  60. Jurcic JG, Nimer SD, Scheinberg DA, et al.: Prognostic significance of minimal residual disease detection and PML/RAR-alpha isoform type: long-term follow-up in acute promyelocytic leukemia. Blood 98 (9): 2651-6, 2001.

  61. Diverio D, Rossi V, Avvisati G, et al.: Early detection of relapse by prospective reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis of the PML/RARalpha fusion gene in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia enrolled in the GIMEMA-AIEOP multicenter "AIDA" trial. GIMEMA-AIEOP Multicenter "AIDA" Trial. Blood 92 (3): 784-9, 1998.

  62. Zelent A, Guidez F, Melnick A, et al.: Translocations of the RARalpha gene in acute promyelocytic leukemia. Oncogene 20 (49): 7186-203, 2001.

  63. Rego EM, Ruggero D, Tribioli C, et al.: Leukemia with distinct phenotypes in transgenic mice expressing PML/RAR alpha, PLZF/RAR alpha or NPM/RAR alpha. Oncogene 25 (13): 1974-9, 2006.

  64. Licht JD, Chomienne C, Goy A, et al.: Clinical and molecular characterization of a rare syndrome of acute promyelocytic leukemia associated with translocation (11;17). Blood 85 (4): 1083-94, 1995.

  65. Guidez F, Ivins S, Zhu J, et al.: Reduced retinoic acid-sensitivities of nuclear receptor corepressor binding to PML- and PLZF-RARalpha underlie molecular pathogenesis and treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Blood 91 (8): 2634-42, 1998.

  66. Grimwade D, Biondi A, Mozziconacci MJ, et al.: Characterization of acute promyelocytic leukemia cases lacking the classic t(15;17): results of the European Working Party. Groupe Français de Cytogénétique Hématologique, Groupe de Français d'Hematologie Cellulaire, UK Cancer Cytogenetics Group and BIOMED 1 European Community-Concerted Action "Molecular Cytogenetic Diagnosis in Haematological Malignancies". Blood 96 (4): 1297-308, 2000.

  67. Sukhai MA, Wu X, Xuan Y, et al.: Myeloid leukemia with promyelocytic features in transgenic mice expressing hCG-NuMA-RARalpha. Oncogene 23 (3): 665-78, 2004.

  68. Redner RL, Corey SJ, Rush EA: Differentiation of t(5;17) variant acute promyelocytic leukemic blasts by all-trans retinoic acid. Leukemia 11 (7): 1014-6, 1997.

  69. Wells RA, Catzavelos C, Kamel-Reid S: Fusion of retinoic acid receptor alpha to NuMA, the nuclear mitotic apparatus protein, by a variant translocation in acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Nat Genet 17 (1): 109-13, 1997.

  70. Wells RA, Hummel JL, De Koven A, et al.: A new variant translocation in acute promyelocytic leukaemia: molecular characterization and clinical correlation. Leukemia 10 (4): 735-40, 1996.

Children with Down Syndrome

Children with Down syndrome have a tenfold to twentyfold increased risk of leukemia compared with children without Down syndrome; the ratio of acute lymphoblastic leukemia to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is nevertheless typical for childhood acute leukemia. The exception is during the first 3 years of life, when AML, particularly the megakaryoblastic subtype, predominates and exhibits a distinctive biology characterized by GATA1 mutations and increased sensitivity to cytarabine.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Importantly, these risks appear to be similar whether a child has phenotypic characteristics of Down syndrome or whether a child has only genetic bone marrow mosaicism.[10]

In addition to increased risk of AML during the first 3 years of life, about 10% of neonates with Down syndrome also develop a transient myeloproliferative disorder (TMD) (also termed transient leukemia). This disorder mimics congenital AML, but typically improves spontaneously within the first 3 months of life, though TMD can remit as late as 20 months.[11] Although TMD is usually a self-resolving condition, it can be associated with significant morbidity and may be fatal in 10% to 20% of affected infants.[11][12][13] Infants with progressive organomegaly, visceral effusions, preterm delivery (less than 37-weeks gestation), bleeding diatheses, failure of spontaneous remission, laboratory evidence of progressive liver dysfunction (elevated direct bilirubin), and very high white blood cell count are at particularly high risk for early mortality.[12][14] Death has been reported to occur in 21% of these patients with high-risk TMD.[15] Three risk groups have been identified based on the diagnostic clinical findings of hepatomegaly with or without life-threatening symptoms: (1) low risk includes those with neither finding (38% of patients and 92% ± 8% OS); (2) intermediate risk with hepatomegaly alone (40% of patients and 77% ± 12% overall survival [OS]); and (3) high risk with both characteristics (21% of patients and 51% ± 19% OS).[15] Therapeutic intervention is warranted in patients in whom severe hydrops or organ failure is apparent. Several treatment approaches have been used, including exchange transfusion, leukapheresis, and low-dose cytarabine.[16]

The mean time for the development of AML in the 10% to 30% of children who have a spontaneous remission of TMD but then develop AML has been reported to be approximately 16 months, with a range of 1 to 30 months.[11][15][17] Thus, most infants with Down syndrome and TMD who later develop AML will do so within the first 3 years of life. Patients with Down syndrome who develop AML with an antecedent TMD have superior event-free survival (EFS) (91% ± 5%) compared with such children without TMD (70% ± 4%) at 5 years,[14] although this was not observed in another study.[18] While TMD is generally not characterized by cytogenetic abnormalities other than trisomy 21, the presence of additional cytogenetic findings may connote an increased risk for developing subsequent AML.[12]

Outcome is generally favorable for children with Down syndrome who develop AML.[18][19] The prognosis is particularly good (EFS exceeding 80%) in children aged 4 years or younger at diagnosis, the age group that accounts for the vast majority of Down syndrome patients with AML.[18][20] A large study of 451 children with AML and Down syndrome (age >6 months and <5 years) confirmed the generally favorable outcome for this patient population (7-year EFS of 78% and 7-year OS of 79%).[21] Multivariate analyses revealed that white blood cell (WBC) count (≥20 × 109/L) and age (>3 years) were independent predictors for lower EFS, although 7-year EFS for the older population (>3 years) and for the higher WBC count population still exceeded 60%. Absence of leukemia cell cytogenetic abnormalities (other than trisomy 21), observed in approximately 30% of patients, independently predicted for inferior OS and EFS (7-year EFS of 65% compared with 82% for patients with aberrant karyotypes).

Appropriate therapy for younger children (aged ≤4 years) with Down syndrome and AML is less intensive than current standard childhood AML therapy, and hematopoietic stem cell transplant is not indicated in first remission.[3][17][18][20][22][23][24][25]

Children with mosaicism for trisomy 21 are recommended to be treated similarly to those children with clinically evident Down syndrome.[10] Children with Down syndrome who are older than 4 years have a significantly worse prognosis.[23] Although an optimal treatment for these children has not been defined, they are usually treated on AML regimens designed for children without Down syndrome.

References:

  1. Ravindranath Y: Down syndrome and leukemia: new insights into the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 1-7, 2005.

  2. Ross JA, Spector LG, Robison LL, et al.: Epidemiology of leukemia in children with Down syndrome. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 8-12, 2005.

  3. Gamis AS: Acute myeloid leukemia and Down syndrome evolution of modern therapy--state of the art review. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 13-20, 2005.

  4. Bassal M, La MK, Whitlock JA, et al.: Lymphoblast biology and outcome among children with Down syndrome and ALL treated on CCG-1952. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 21-8, 2005.

  5. Massey GV: Transient leukemia in newborns with Down syndrome. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 29-32, 2005.

  6. Taub JW, Ge Y: Down syndrome, drug metabolism and chromosome 21. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 33-9, 2005.

  7. Crispino JD: GATA1 mutations in Down syndrome: implications for biology and diagnosis of children with transient myeloproliferative disorder and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 40-4, 2005.

  8. Jubinsky PT: Megakaryopoiesis and thrombocytosis. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (1): 45-6, 2005.

  9. Ge Y, Stout ML, Tatman DA, et al.: GATA1, cytidine deaminase, and the high cure rate of Down syndrome children with acute megakaryocytic leukemia. J Natl Cancer Inst 97 (3): 226-31, 2005.

  10. Kudo K, Hama A, Kojima S, et al.: Mosaic Down syndrome-associated acute myeloid leukemia does not require high-dose cytarabine treatment for induction and consolidation therapy. Int J Hematol 91 (4): 630-5, 2010.

  11. Homans AC, Verissimo AM, Vlacha V: Transient abnormal myelopoiesis of infancy associated with trisomy 21. Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 15 (4): 392-9, 1993.

  12. Massey GV, Zipursky A, Chang MN, et al.: A prospective study of the natural history of transient leukemia (TL) in neonates with Down syndrome (DS): Children's Oncology Group (COG) study POG-9481. Blood 107 (12): 4606-13, 2006.

  13. Muramatsu H, Kato K, Watanabe N, et al.: Risk factors for early death in neonates with Down syndrome and transient leukaemia. Br J Haematol 142 (4): 610-5, 2008.

  14. Klusmann JH, Creutzig U, Zimmermann M, et al.: Treatment and prognostic impact of transient leukemia in neonates with Down syndrome. Blood 111 (6): 2991-8, 2008.

  15. Gamis AS, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: Natural history of transient myeloproliferative disorder clinically diagnosed in Down syndrome neonates: a report from the Children's Oncology Group Study A2971. Blood 118 (26): 6752-9; quiz 6996, 2011.

  16. Al-Kasim F, Doyle JJ, Massey GV, et al.: Incidence and treatment of potentially lethal diseases in transient leukemia of Down syndrome: Pediatric Oncology Group Study. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 24 (1): 9-13, 2002.

  17. Ravindranath Y, Abella E, Krischer JP, et al.: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in Down's syndrome is highly responsive to chemotherapy: experience on Pediatric Oncology Group AML Study 8498. Blood 80 (9): 2210-4, 1992.

  18. Sorrell AD, Alonzo TA, Hilden JM, et al.: Favorable survival maintained in children who have myeloid leukemia associated with Down syndrome using reduced-dose chemotherapy on Children's Oncology Group trial A2971: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Cancer 118 (19): 4806-14, 2012.

  19. Lange BJ, Kobrinsky N, Barnard DR, et al.: Distinctive demography, biology, and outcome of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome in children with Down syndrome: Children's Cancer Group Studies 2861 and 2891. Blood 91 (2): 608-15, 1998.

  20. Creutzig U, Reinhardt D, Diekamp S, et al.: AML patients with Down syndrome have a high cure rate with AML-BFM therapy with reduced dose intensity. Leukemia 19 (8): 1355-60, 2005.

  21. Blink M, Zimmermann M, von Neuhoff C, et al.: Normal karyotype is a poor prognostic factor in myeloid leukemia of Down syndrome: a retrospective, international study. Haematologica 99 (2): 299-307, 2014.

  22. Craze JL, Harrison G, Wheatley K, et al.: Improved outcome of acute myeloid leukaemia in Down's syndrome. Arch Dis Child 81 (1): 32-7, 1999.

  23. Gamis AS, Woods WG, Alonzo TA, et al.: Increased age at diagnosis has a significantly negative effect on outcome in children with Down syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Children's Cancer Group Study 2891. J Clin Oncol 21 (18): 3415-22, 2003.

  24. Zeller B, Gustafsson G, Forestier E, et al.: Acute leukaemia in children with Down syndrome: a population-based Nordic study. Br J Haematol 128 (6): 797-804, 2005.

  25. Taga T, Shimomura Y, Horikoshi Y, et al.: Continuous and high-dose cytarabine combined chemotherapy in children with down syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia: Report from the Japanese children's cancer and leukemia study group (JCCLSG) AML 9805 down study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (1): 36-40, 2011.

Myelodysplastic Syndromes

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myeloproliferative syndromes (MPS), which represent between 5% and 10% of all myeloid malignancies in children, are a heterogeneous group of disorders with the former usually presenting with cytopenias and the latter with increased peripheral white blood cell, red blood cell, or platelet counts. MDS is characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis and increased cell death, while MPS is associated with increased progenitor proliferation and survival. Because they both represent disorders of very primitive, multipotential hematopoietic stem cells, curative therapeutic approaches nearly always require allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Patients usually present with signs of cytopenias, including pallor, infection, or bruising. The bone marrow is usually characterized by hypercellularity and dysplastic changes in myeloid precursors. Clonal evolution eventually can lead to the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The percentage of abnormal blasts is less than 20%. The less common, hypocellular MDS, can be distinguished from aplastic anemia in part by its marked dysplasia, clonal nature, and higher percentage of CD34-positive precursors.[1][2]

Although the etiology of MDS has not been elucidated, clues have begun to be defined. For instance, approximately 20% of malignant myeloid disorders, including MDS, in adults have been shown to have mutations in the TET2 gene.[3] Other genes shown to be mutated in MDS include EZH2, DNMT3A, ASXL1, IDH1/2, RUNX1, ETV6-TEL, and TP53. Most of these genes are key elements of epigenetic regulation of the genome and affect DNA methylation and/or histone modification.[3][4][5] Mutations in proteins involved in RNA splicing have been described in 45% to 85% of MDS and appear to occur early in the course of the disease.[6] MDS in both adults and children has been shown to have aberrant DNA methylation patterns and approximately one-half of cases are characterized by hypermethylation of the promoters for the CDKN2B and CALC genes, both of which play roles in cell cycle regulation.[7][8]

Patients with inherited disorders, such as Fanconi anemia, due to germline mutations in DNA repair genes, or dyskeratosis congenita, due to mutations in genes regulating telomere length, have significantly increased risk of developing MDS.[9] Additional bone marrow failure syndromes may also evolve into MDS, including those due to mutations in genes encoding ribosome-associated proteins, such as Shwachman-Diamond syndrome and Diamond-Blackfan anemia.[9] The 15-year cumulative risk of MDS in patients with severe congenital neutropenia, also known as Kostmann syndrome, which is due to mutations in the gene encoding elastase, has been estimated to be 15% with an annual risk of MDS/AML of 2% to 3%; how mutations affecting this protein and what role the chronic exposure of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) contribute to the development of MDS is unclear.[10][11] Inherited mutations in the RUNX1 or CEPBA genes have also been shown to be associated with familial MDS/AML and congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia.[12][13]

The French-American-British (FAB) and World Health Organization (WHO) classification systems of MDS and MPS have been difficult to apply to pediatric patients. Alternative classification systems for children have been proposed, but none have been uniformly adopted, with the exception of the modified 2008 WHO classification system.[14][15][16][17][18] The WHO system [19] has been modified for pediatrics.[17]

Diagnostic Categories for Myelodysplastic and Myeloproliferative Disease in Children

  • Down syndrome disease
    • Transient myeloproliferative disorder.
    • Myeloid leukemia of Down syndrome.
  • Myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative disease
    • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
    • Refractory cytopenia (also called refractory anemia)—peripheral blood blasts less than 2% and bone marrow blasts less than 5%.
    • Refractory anemia with excess blasts—peripheral blood blasts 2% to 19% or bone marrow blasts 5% to 19%.
    • Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation—peripheral blood or bone marrow blasts 20% to 29%. In the FAB classification, refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation required evidence of dysplasia, particularly in the red blood cell lineage, and 21% to 30% myeloblasts in the bone marrow; if there was greater than 30% myeloblasts this was considered to be AML. In part because of the artificial designation of the percentage of blasts, the WHO classification system now simply considers these patients to have AML and the refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation subtype has been eliminated.

The refractory cytopenia subtype represents approximately 50% of all childhood cases of MDS. The presence of an isolated monosomy 7 is the most common cytogenetic abnormality, although it does not appear to portend a poor prognosis compared with its presence in overt AML. However, the presence of monosomy 7 in combination with other cytogenetic abnormalities is associated with a poor prognosis.[20][21] The relatively common abnormalities of -Y, 20q- and 5q- in adults with MDS are rare in childhood MDS. The presence of cytogenetic abnormalities found in AML defines disease that should be treated as AML and not MDS.[22]

The International Prognostic Scoring System can help to distinguish low-risk from high-risk MDS, although its utility in children with MDS is more limited than in adults as many characteristics differ between children and adults.[22][23] The median survival for children with high-risk MDS remains substantially better than adults and the presence of monosomy 7 in children has not had the same adverse prognostic impact as in adults with MDS.[24]

The optimal therapy for childhood MDS has not been established. A key issue in thinking about therapy for pediatric patients with MDS is that these disorders usually involve a primitive hematopoietic stem cell. Thus, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is considered to be the optimal approach to treatment for pediatric patients with MDS. Unresolved issues include determining the best transplant preparative regimen and source of donor cells.[25][26] However, some data are important to consider when making decisions. For example, survival as high as 80% has been reported for patients with early-stage MDS proceeding to transplant within a few months of diagnosis. Further, early transplant and not receiving pretransplant chemotherapy have been associated with improved survival in children with MDS.[27][Level of evidence: 3iiA] Disease-free survival (DFS) has been estimated to be between 50% to 70% for pediatric patients with advanced MDS using myeloablative transplant preparative regimens.[28][29][30][31][32] While using nonmyeloablative preparative transplant regimens are being tested in patients with MDS and AML, such regimens are still investigational for children with these disorders, but may be reasonable in the setting of a clinical trial or when a patient’s organ function is compromised in such a way that they would not tolerate a myeloablative regimen.[33][34][35]; [36][Level of evidence: 3iiiA]

The question of whether chemotherapy should be used in high-risk MDS has been examined. The Children's Cancer Group 2891 trial accrued patients between 1989 and 1995, including children with MDS.[28] There were 77 patients with refractory anemia (n = 2), refractory anemia with excess blasts (n = 33), refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (n = 26), or AML with antecedent MDS (n = 16) who were enrolled and randomly assigned to standard or intensively timed induction. Subsequently, patients were allocated to allogeneic HSCT if there was a suitable family donor, or randomly assigned to autologous HSCT or chemotherapy. Patients with refractory anemia/refractory anemia with excess blasts had a poor remission rate (45%), and those with refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (69%) or AML with history of MDS (81%) had similar remission rates compared with de novo AML (77%). Six-year survival was poor for those with refractory anemia/refractory anemia with excess blasts (28%) and refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (30%). Patients with AML and antecedent MDS had a similar outcome to those with de novo AML (50% survival compared with 45%). Allogeneic HSCT appeared to improve survival at a marginal level of significance (P = .08). Based on analysis of these data and the literature, the authors concluded that children with a history of MDS who present with AML and many of those with refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation do as well with AML therapy at diagnosis as children with AML. An exception to this conclusion is children with AML with a precedent MDS and monosomy 7; these patients have a very poor prognosis and are usually treated with some type of allogeneic HSCT. An analysis of 37 children with MDS treated on Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster AML protocols 83, 87, and 93 confirmed the induction response of 74% for patients with refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation and suggested that transplantation was beneficial.[37] Another study by the same group showed that with current approaches to HSCT, survival occurred in more than 60% of children with advanced MDS, and outcomes for patients receiving unrelated donor cells were similar to those for patients who received matched-family donor (MFD) cells.[38]

A significant issue to consider for these results is that the subtype refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation is likely to represent patients with overt AML, while refractory anemia and refractory anemia with excess blasts represent MDS. The WHO classification has now omitted the category of refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation, concluding that this entity was essentially AML. The optimal therapy for patients with refractory anemia/refractory anemia with excess blasts without an HLA-MFD is unknown. Some of these patients require no therapy for years and have indolent diseases. Because failure rates after HSCT are lower in this group, strong consideration should be given for transplantation, especially when a 5/6 or 6/6 HLA-MFD is available. However, alternative forms of HSCT, utilizing matched unrelated donor cord blood, should be considered when treatment is required, as is usually the case in patients with severe symptomatic cytopenias.[29][32] The 8-year DFS for children with various stages of MDS transplanted with either HLA matched or mismatched unrelated donor transplants has been reported to be 65% and 40%, respectively.[32][Level of evidence: 3iiiDii] A 3-year DFS of 50% was reported with the use of unrelated cord blood donor transplants for children with MDS, when the transplants were done after 2001.[39][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiii]

Because MDS in children is often associated with inherited predisposition syndromes, reports of transplantation in small numbers of patients have been reported. For example, in patients with Fanconi anemia and AML or advanced MDS, the 5-year overall survival (OS) has been reported to be 33% to 55%.[40][41][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] Second transplants have also been used in pediatric patients with MDS/MPD who relapse or suffer graft failure. The 3-year OS was 33% for those retransplanted for relapse and 57% for those transplanted for initial graft failure.[42][Level of evidence: 3iiiA]

For patients with clinically significant cytopenias, supportive care, including transfusions and prophylactic antibiotics, can be considered. In addition, the use of hematopoietic growth factors can improve the hematopoietic status, but there remains some concern that such treatment could accelerate conversion to AML.[43] Steroid therapy has also been used, including glucocorticoids and androgens, with mixed results.[44] Treatments directed toward scavenging free oxygen radicals with amifostine [45][46] or the use of differentiation-promoting retinoids,[47] DNA methylation inhibitors (e.g., azacytidine and decitabine), and histone deacetylase inhibitors, have all shown some response, but no definitive trials in children with MDS have been reported. Azacytidine has been by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -approved for the treatment of MDS in adults based on randomized studies.[48] Agents, such as lenalidomide, an analog of thalidomide, have been tested based on findings that demonstrated increased activity in the bone marrow of patients with MDS. Lenalidomide has shown most efficacy in patients with 5q- syndrome, especially those with thrombocytosis, and is now FDA-approved for use in this group.[49] Immunosuppression with antithymocyte globulin and/or cyclosporine has also been reported.[49][50]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

The following are examples of national and/or institutional clinical trials that are currently being conducted. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  • The use of a variety of inhibitors of DNA methylation and histone deacetylase inhibitors, as well as other therapies designed to induce differentiation, are being studied in both young and older adults with MDS.[51][52][53]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood myelodysplastic syndromes. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Kasahara S, Hara T, Itoh H, et al.: Hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndromes can be distinguished from acquired aplastic anaemia by bone marrow stem cell expression of the tumour necrosis factor receptor. Br J Haematol 118 (1): 181-8, 2002.

  2. Orazi A: Histopathology in the diagnosis and classification of acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases. Pathobiology 74 (2): 97-114, 2007.

  3. Nikoloski G, Langemeijer SM, Kuiper RP, et al.: Somatic mutations of the histone methyltransferase gene EZH2 in myelodysplastic syndromes. Nat Genet 42 (8): 665-7, 2010.

  4. Schlegelberger B, Göhring G, Thol F, et al.: Update on cytogenetic and molecular changes in myelodysplastic syndromes. Leuk Lymphoma 53 (4): 525-36, 2012.

  5. Tan PT, Wei AH: The epigenomics revolution in myelodysplasia: a clinico-pathological perspective. Pathology 43 (6): 536-46, 2011.

  6. Yoshida K, Sanada M, Shiraishi Y, et al.: Frequent pathway mutations of splicing machinery in myelodysplasia. Nature 478 (7367): 64-9, 2011.

  7. Hasegawa D, Manabe A, Kubota T, et al.: Methylation status of the p15 and p16 genes in paediatric myelodysplastic syndrome and juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia. Br J Haematol 128 (6): 805-12, 2005.

  8. Vidal DO, Paixão VA, Brait M, et al.: Aberrant methylation in pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome. Leuk Res 31 (2): 175-81, 2007.

  9. Alter BP, Giri N, Savage SA, et al.: Malignancies and survival patterns in the National Cancer Institute inherited bone marrow failure syndromes cohort study. Br J Haematol 150 (2): 179-88, 2010.

  10. Rosenberg PS, Zeidler C, Bolyard AA, et al.: Stable long-term risk of leukaemia in patients with severe congenital neutropenia maintained on G-CSF therapy. Br J Haematol 150 (2): 196-9, 2010.

  11. Rosenberg PS, Huang Y, Alter BP: Individualized risks of first adverse events in patients with Fanconi anemia. Blood 104 (2): 350-5, 2004.

  12. Liew E, Owen C: Familial myelodysplastic syndromes: a review of the literature. Haematologica 96 (10): 1536-42, 2011.

  13. Owen C, Barnett M, Fitzgibbon J: Familial myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukaemia--a review. Br J Haematol 140 (2): 123-32, 2008.

  14. Occhipinti E, Correa H, Yu L, et al.: Comparison of two new classifications for pediatric myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative disorders. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (3): 240-4, 2005.

  15. Niemeyer CM, Baumann I: Myelodysplastic syndrome in children and adolescents. Semin Hematol 45 (1): 60-70, 2008.

  16. Niemeyer CM, Kratz CP: Paediatric myelodysplastic syndromes and juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia: molecular classification and treatment options. Br J Haematol 140 (6): 610-24, 2008.

  17. Hasle H: Myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative disorders in children. Curr Opin Pediatr 19 (1): 1-8, 2007.

  18. Mandel K, Dror Y, Poon A, et al.: A practical, comprehensive classification for pediatric myelodysplastic syndromes: the CCC system. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 24 (7): 596-605, 2002.

  19. Nösslinger T, Reisner R, Koller E, et al.: Myelodysplastic syndromes, from French-American-British to World Health Organization: comparison of classifications on 431 unselected patients from a single institution. Blood 98 (10): 2935-41, 2001.

  20. Göhring G, Michalova K, Beverloo HB, et al.: Complex karyotype newly defined: the strongest prognostic factor in advanced childhood myelodysplastic syndrome. Blood 116 (19): 3766-9, 2010.

  21. Haase D, Germing U, Schanz J, et al.: New insights into the prognostic impact of the karyotype in MDS and correlation with subtypes: evidence from a core dataset of 2124 patients. Blood 110 (13): 4385-95, 2007.

  22. Hasle H, Baumann I, Bergsträsser E, et al.: The International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) for childhood myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). Leukemia 18 (12): 2008-14, 2004.

  23. Cutler CS, Lee SJ, Greenberg P, et al.: A decision analysis of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for the myelodysplastic syndromes: delayed transplantation for low-risk myelodysplasia is associated with improved outcome. Blood 104 (2): 579-85, 2004.

  24. Hasle H, Niemeyer CM: Advances in the prognostication and management of advanced MDS in children. Br J Haematol 154 (2): 185-95, 2011.

  25. Uberti JP, Agovi MA, Tarima S, et al.: Comparative analysis of BU and CY versus CY and TBI in full intensity unrelated marrow donor transplantation for AML, CML and myelodysplasia. Bone Marrow Transplant 46 (1): 34-43, 2011.

  26. Nemecek ER, Guthrie KA, Sorror ML, et al.: Conditioning with treosulfan and fludarabine followed by allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation for high-risk hematologic malignancies. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17 (3): 341-50, 2011.

  27. Smith AR, Christiansen EC, Wagner JE, et al.: Early hematopoietic stem cell transplant is associated with favorable outcomes in children with MDS. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60 (4): 705-10, 2013.

  28. Woods WG, Barnard DR, Alonzo TA, et al.: Prospective study of 90 children requiring treatment for juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome: a report from the Children's Cancer Group. J Clin Oncol 20 (2): 434-40, 2002.

  29. Parikh SH, Mendizabal A, Martin PL, et al.: Unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation in pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome: a single-center experience. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 15 (8): 948-55, 2009.

  30. Andolina JR, Kletzel M, Tse WT, et al.: Allogeneic hematopoetic stem cell transplantation in pediatric myelodysplastic syndromes: improved outcomes for de novo disease. Pediatr Transplant 15 (3): 334-43, 2011.

  31. Al-Seraihy A, Ayas M, Al-Nounou R, et al.: Outcome of allogeneic stem cell transplantation with a conditioning regimen of busulfan, cyclophosphamide and low-dose etoposide for children with myelodysplastic syndrome. Hematol Oncol Stem Cell Ther 4 (3): 121-5, 2011.

  32. Woodard P, Carpenter PA, Davies SM, et al.: Unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation for myelodysplastic syndrome in children. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17 (5): 723-8, 2011.

  33. Champlin R: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for treatment of myleodysplastic syndromes. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17 (1 Suppl): S6-8, 2011.

  34. Nelson RP Jr, Yu M, Schwartz JE, et al.: Long-term disease-free survival after nonmyeloablative cyclophosphamide/fludarabine conditioning and related/unrelated allotransplantation for acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplasia. Bone Marrow Transplant 45 (8): 1300-8, 2010.

  35. Warlick ED: Optimizing stem cell transplantation in myelodysplastic syndromes: unresolved questions. Curr Opin Oncol 22 (2): 150-4, 2010.

  36. Gao L, Gao L, Gong Y, et al.: Reduced-intensity conditioning therapy with fludarabine, idarubicin, busulfan and cytarabine for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. Leuk Res 37 (11): 1482-7, 2013.

  37. Creutzig U, Bender-Götze C, Ritter J, et al.: The role of intensive AML-specific therapy in treatment of children with RAEB and RAEB-t. Leukemia 12 (5): 652-9, 1998.

  38. Strahm B, Nöllke P, Zecca M, et al.: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for advanced myelodysplastic syndrome in children: results of the EWOG-MDS 98 study. Leukemia 25 (3): 455-62, 2011.

  39. Madureira AB, Eapen M, Locatelli F, et al.: Analysis of risk factors influencing outcome in children with myelodysplastic syndrome after unrelated cord blood transplantation. Leukemia 25 (3): 449-54, 2011.

  40. Mitchell R, Wagner JE, Hirsch B, et al.: Haematopoietic cell transplantation for acute leukaemia and advanced myelodysplastic syndrome in Fanconi anaemia. Br J Haematol 164 (3): 384-95, 2014.

  41. Ayas M, Saber W, Davies SM, et al.: Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation for fanconi anemia in patients with pretransplantation cytogenetic abnormalities, myelodysplastic syndrome, or acute leukemia. J Clin Oncol 31 (13): 1669-76, 2013.

  42. Kato M, Yoshida N, Inagaki J, et al.: Salvage allogeneic stem cell transplantation in patients with pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome and myeloproliferative neoplasms. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (10): 1860-6, 2014.

  43. Zwierzina H, Suciu S, Loeffler-Ragg J, et al.: Low-dose cytosine arabinoside (LD-AraC) vs LD-AraC plus granulocyte/macrophage colony stimulating factor vs LD-AraC plus Interleukin-3 for myelodysplastic syndrome patients with a high risk of developing acute leukemia: final results of a randomized phase III study (06903) of the EORTC Leukemia Cooperative Group. Leukemia 19 (11): 1929-33, 2005.

  44. Chan G, DiVenuti G, Miller K: Danazol for the treatment of thrombocytopenia in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome. Am J Hematol 71 (3): 166-71, 2002.

  45. Mathew P, Gerbing R, Alonzo TA, et al.: A phase II study of amifostine in children with myelodysplastic syndrome: a report from the Children's Oncology Group study (AAML0121). Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (7): 1230-2, 2011.

  46. Schanz J, Jung H, Wörmann B, et al.: Amifostine has the potential to induce haematologic responses and decelerate disease progression in individual patients with low- and intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndromes. Leuk Res 33 (9): 1183-8, 2009.

  47. Sadek I, Zayed E, Hayne O, et al.: Prolonged complete remission of myelodysplastic syndrome treated with danazol, retinoic acid and low-dose prednisone. Am J Hematol 64 (4): 306-10, 2000.

  48. Silverman LR, Demakos EP, Peterson BL, et al.: Randomized controlled trial of azacitidine in patients with the myelodysplastic syndrome: a study of the cancer and leukemia group B. J Clin Oncol 20 (10): 2429-40, 2002.

  49. Yazji S, Giles FJ, Tsimberidou AM, et al.: Antithymocyte globulin (ATG)-based therapy in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. Leukemia 17 (11): 2101-6, 2003.

  50. Yoshimi A, Baumann I, Führer M, et al.: Immunosuppressive therapy with anti-thymocyte globulin and cyclosporine A in selected children with hypoplastic refractory cytopenia. Haematologica 92 (3): 397-400, 2007.

  51. Mufti G, List AF, Gore SD, et al.: Myelodysplastic syndrome. Hematology (Am Soc Hematol Educ Program) : 176-99, 2003.

  52. Esteller M: DNA methylation and cancer therapy: new developments and expectations. Curr Opin Oncol 17 (1): 55-60, 2005.

  53. Bhalla K, List A: Histone deacetylase inhibitors in myelodysplastic syndrome. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 17 (4): 595-611, 2004.

Therapy-Related AML/Myelodysplastic Syndromes

The development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) after treatment with ionizing radiation or chemotherapy, particularly alkylating agents and topoisomerase inhibitors, is termed therapy-related (t-AML or t-MDS, respectively). In addition to genotoxic exposures, genetic predisposition susceptibilities (such as polymorphisms in drug detoxification and DNA repair pathway components) may contribute to the occurrence of secondary AML/MDS.[1][2][3][4] The risk of t-AML/t-MDS is regimen-dependent and often related to the cumulative doses of chemotherapy agents received, and the dose and field of radiation administered.[5] Regimens previously used that employed high cumulative doses of either epipodophyllotoxins (e.g., etoposide or teniposide) or alkylating agents (e.g., mechlorethamine, melphalan, busulfan, and cyclophosphamide) induced excessively high rates of t-AML/t-MDS that exceeded 10% in some cases.[5][6] However, most current chemotherapy regimens that are used to treat childhood cancers have a cumulative incidence of t-AML/t-MDS not greater than 1% to 2%. t-AML/t-MDS resulting from epipodophyllotoxins and other topoisomerase II inhibitors (e.g., anthracyclines) usually occur within 2 years of exposure and are commonly associated with chromosome 11q23 abnormalities,[7] although other subtypes of AML (e.g., acute promyelocytic leukemia) have been reported.[8][9] t-AML that occurs after exposure to alkylating agents or ionizing radiation often presents 5 to 7 years later and is commonly associated with monosomies or deletions of chromosomes 5 and 7.[1][7]

The goal of treatment is to achieve an initial complete remission (CR) using AML-directed regimens and then, usually, proceed directly to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) with the best available donor. However, treatment is challenging because of the following:[10]

  1. Increased rates of adverse cytogenetics and subsequent failure to obtain remission with chemotherapy.
  2. Comorbidities or limitations related to chemotherapy for the previous malignancy.

Accordingly, CR rates and overall survival (OS) rates are usually lower for patients with t-AML compared with patients with de novo AML.[10][11][12] Patients with t-MDS-refractory anemia usually have not needed induction chemotherapy before transplant; the role of induction therapy before transplant is controversial in patients with refractory anemia with excess blasts-1.

Only a few reports describe the outcome of children undergoing HSCT for t-AML. One study described outcomes of 27 children with t-AML who received related and unrelated donor HSCT. Three-year OS rates were 18.5% ± 7.5% and event-free survival rates were 18.7% ± 7.5%. Poor survival was mainly the result of very high transplant-related mortality (59.6% ± 8.4%).[13] Another study reported a second retrospective single-center experience of 14 patients transplanted for t-AML/t-MDS between 1975 and 2007. Survival was 29%, but in this review only 63% of patients diagnosed with t-AML/t-MDS underwent HSCT.[11] A multicenter study (CCG-2891) looked at outcomes of 24 children with t-AML/t-MDS compared with other children enrolled on the study with de novo AML (n = 898) or MDS (n = 62). Children with t-AML/t-MDS were older and low-risk cytogenetics rarely occurred. Although rates of achieving CR and OS at 3 years were worse in the t-AML/t-MDS group (CR, 50% vs. 72%; P = .016; OS, 26% vs. 47%; P = .007), survival was similar (OS, 45% vs. 53%; P = .87) if patients achieved a CR.[14] The importance of remission to survival in these patients is further illustrated by another single-center report of 21 children undergoing HSCT for t-AML/t-MDS between 1994 and 2009. Of the 21 children, 12 had t-AML (11 in CR at the time of transplant), seven had refractory anemia (for whom induction was not done), and two had refractory anemia with excess blasts. Survival of the entire cohort was 61%; those in remission or with refractory anemia had a disease-free survival of 66%, and for the three patients with more than 5% blasts at the time of HSCT, survival was 0% (P = .015).[15] Because t-AML is rare in children, it is not known whether the significant decrease in transplant-related mortality after unrelated donor HSCT noted over the past several years will translate to improved survival in this population. Patients should be carefully assessed for pre-HSCT morbidities caused by earlier therapies and approaches should be adapted to give adequate intensity while minimizing transplant-related mortality.

References:

  1. Leone G, Fianchi L, Voso MT: Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms. Curr Opin Oncol 23 (6): 672-80, 2011.

  2. Bolufer P, Collado M, Barragan E, et al.: Profile of polymorphisms of drug-metabolising enzymes and the risk of therapy-related leukaemia. Br J Haematol 136 (4): 590-6, 2007.

  3. Ezoe S: Secondary leukemia associated with the anti-cancer agent, etoposide, a topoisomerase II inhibitor. Int J Environ Res Public Health 9 (7): 2444-53, 2012.

  4. Ding Y, Sun CL, Li L, et al.: Genetic susceptibility to therapy-related leukemia after Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma: role of drug metabolism, apoptosis and DNA repair. Blood Cancer J 2 (3): e58, 2012.

  5. Leone G, Mele L, Pulsoni A, et al.: The incidence of secondary leukemias. Haematologica 84 (10): 937-45, 1999.

  6. Pui CH, Ribeiro RC, Hancock ML, et al.: Acute myeloid leukemia in children treated with epipodophyllotoxins for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. N Engl J Med 325 (24): 1682-7, 1991.

  7. Andersen MK, Johansson B, Larsen SO, et al.: Chromosomal abnormalities in secondary MDS and AML. Relationship to drugs and radiation with specific emphasis on the balanced rearrangements. Haematologica 83 (6): 483-8, 1998.

  8. Ogami A, Morimoto A, Hibi S, et al.: Secondary acute promyelocytic leukemia following chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a child. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 26 (7): 427-30, 2004.

  9. Okamoto T, Okada M, Wakae T, et al.: Secondary acute promyelocytic leukemia in a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treated with VP-16 and MST-16. Int J Hematol 75 (1): 107-8, 2002.

  10. Larson RA: Etiology and management of therapy-related myeloid leukemia. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program : 453-9, 2007.

  11. Aguilera DG, Vaklavas C, Tsimberidou AM, et al.: Pediatric therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia: the MD Anderson Cancer Center experience. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 31 (11): 803-11, 2009.

  12. Yokoyama H, Mori S, Kobayashi Y, et al.: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome and acute leukemia: a single-center analysis of 47 patients. Int J Hematol 92 (2): 334-41, 2010.

  13. Woodard P, Barfield R, Hale G, et al.: Outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for pediatric patients with therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome. Pediatr Blood Cancer 47 (7): 931-5, 2006.

  14. Barnard DR, Lange B, Alonzo TA, et al.: Acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome in children treated for cancer: comparison with primary presentation. Blood 100 (2): 427-34, 2002.

  15. Kobos R, Steinherz PG, Kernan NA, et al.: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for pediatric patients with treatment-related myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myelogenous leukemia. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 18 (3): 473-80, 2012.

Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), formerly termed juvenile chronic myeloid leukemia, is a rare hematopoietic malignancy of childhood accounting for less than 1% of all childhood leukemias.[1] A number of clinical and laboratory features distinguish JMML from adult chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. The diagnostic criteria that need to be met for JMML are included in Table 5.[2][3]

Table 5. Diagnostic Criteria for Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML)

Category 1 (all of the following)a

Category 2 (at least one of the following)b,c

Category 3 (two of the following if no category 2 criteria are met)a,d

Absence of the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene

Somatic mutation in RAS or PTPN11

White blood cell count >10 × 109/L

>1 × 109/L circulating monocytes

Clinical diagnosis of NF1 or NF1 gene mutation

Circulating myeloid precursors

<20% blasts in the bone marrow

Monosomy 7

Increased hemoglobin F for age

Splenomegalyb,e

Clonal cytogenetic abnormality excluding monosomy 7b

GM-CSF hypersensitivity

GM-CSF = granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; NF1 = neurofibromatosis type 1.

aCurrent World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

bProposed additions to the WHO criteria that were discussed by participants attending the JMML Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia in 2008.[2]CBL mutations were discovered subsequent to the symposium and should be screened for in the workup of a patient with suspected JMML.[3]

cPatients who are found to have a category 2 lesion need to meet the criteria in category 1 but do not need to meet the category 3 criteria.

dPatients who are not found to have a category 2 lesion must meet the category 1 and 3 criteria.

eNote that only 7% of patients with JMML will NOT present with splenomegaly, but virtually all patients develop splenomegaly within several weeks to months of initial presentation.

The pathogenesis of JMML has been closely linked to activation of the RAS oncogene pathway, along with related syndromes (see Figure 1).[2][3] In addition, distinctive RNA expression and DNA methylation patterns have been reported; they are correlated with clinical factors such as age and appear to be associated with prognosis.[4][5]

Schematic diagram showing ligand-stimulated Ras activation, the Ras-Erk pathway, and gene mutations contributing to the neuro-cardio-facio-cutaneous congenital disorders and JMML.
Figure 1. Schematic diagram showing ligand-stimulated Ras activation, the Ras-Erk pathway, and the gene mutations found to date contributing to the neuro-cardio-facio-cutaneous congenital disorders and JMML. NL/MGCL: Noonan-like/multiple giant cell lesion; CFC: cardia-facio-cutaneous; JMML: juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Reprinted from Leukemia Research, 33 (3), Rebecca J. Chan, Todd Cooper, Christian P. Kratz, Brian Weiss, Mignon L. Loh, Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: A report from the 2nd International JMML Symposium, Pages 355-62, Copyright 2009, with permission from Elsevier.

Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and Noonan syndrome are at increased risk for developing JMML,[6][7] and up to 14% of cases of JMML occur in children with NF1.[8] Noonan syndrome, which is usually inherited as an autosomal dominant condition, but can also arise spontaneously, is characterized by facial dysmorphism, short stature, webbed neck, neurocognitive abnormalities, and cardiac abnormalities. Importantly, some children with Noonan syndrome have a hematologic picture indistinguishable from JMML that self-resolves during infancy, similar to what happens in children with Down syndrome and transient myeloproliferative disorder.[3]

There are only a small number of mutations in the leukemia cells of patients with JMML, with exome sequencing identifying approximately one nonsilent mutation per case.[9] Approximately 75% of JMML cases harbor one of three mutually exclusive mutations leading to activated RAS signaling, including direct oncogenic RAS mutations (approximately 20%–30%),[9][10][11]NF1 inactivating mutations (approximately 10%–25%),[9][12] or protein tyrosine phosphatase, nonreceptor type 11 (PTPN11) (SHP-2) mutations (approximately 35%–40%).[9][13][14]

Mutations in the Casitas B-lineage Lymphoma (CBL) gene, a E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase that is involved in targeting proteins, particularly tyrosine kinases, for proteasomal degradation occur in 10% to 15% of JMML cases,[15][16] with many of these cases occurring in children with germline CBL mutations.[17][18]CBL germline mutations result in an autosomal dominant developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired growth, developmental delay, cryptorchidism, and a predisposition to JMML.[17] Some individuals with CBL germline mutations experience spontaneous regression of their JMML but develop vasculitis later in life.[17]CBL mutations are nearly always mutually exclusive of RAS and PTPN11 mutations.[15]

Recurrent mutations in SETBP1 or JAK3 have been identified in addition to RAS pathway mutations in a proportion of JMML cases (16%). These mutations were generally subclonal and are thus thought to be secondary mutations. There was a suggestion that these mutations worsened overall survival for cases with these mutations.[9]

Historically, more than 90% of patients with JMML died despite the use of chemotherapy,[19] but with the application of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), survival rates of approximately 50% are now observed.[20] Patients appeared to follow three distinct clinical courses: (1) rapidly progressive disease and early demise; (2) transiently stable disease followed by progression and death; and (3) clinical improvement that lasted up to 9 years before progression or, rarely, long-term survival. Favorable prognostic factors for survival after any therapy include being younger than 3 years, having a platelet count of greater than 33 × 109/L, and low age-adjusted fetal hemoglobin levels.[8][21] In contrast, being older than 2 years and having high blood fetal hemoglobin levels at diagnosis are predictors of poor outcome.[8][21] It remains controversial whether specific mutations are predictive of outcome.[22]

The role of conventional antileukemia therapy in the treatment of JMML is not defined. The absence of consensus response criteria for JMML complicates determination of the role of specific agents in the treatment of JMML.[23] Some of the agents that have shown antileukemia activity against JMML include etoposide, cytarabine, thiopurines (thioguanine and 6-mercaptopurine), and isotretinoin, but none of these have been shown to improve outcome.[22][23][24][25][26]

HSCT currently offers the best chance of cure for JMML.[20][27][28][29] A report from the European Working Group on Childhood Myelodysplastic Syndrome notes a 55% and 49% 5-year event-free survival for a large group of children with JMML transplanted with HLA-identical matched family donors or unrelated donors, respectively.[20] The trial included 100 recipients at multiple centers using a common preparative regimen of busulfan, cyclophosphamide, and melphalan, with or without antithymocyte globulin. Recipients had been treated with varying degrees of pretransplant chemotherapy or differentiating agents and some patients had splenectomy performed. Multivariate analysis showed no effect on survival of prior acute myeloid leukemia-like chemotherapy versus low-dose chemotherapy or none; no effect on survival was observed for the presence or absence of a spleen, difference in spleen size, or related versus unrelated donors. Only gender and age older than 4 years were shown to be poor prognostic factors for outcome and increased risk of relapse (relative risk [RR], 2.24 [1.07–4.69]; P = .032, RR, 2.22 [1.09–4.50]; P = .028 for older age and female gender, respectively).[20] Cord blood transplantation results in a 5-year disease-free survival of 44%, with improved outcome in children younger than 1.4 years at diagnosis, those with nonmonosomy 7 karyotype, and those receiving 5/6 to 6/6 HLA matched cord units. [30][Level of evidence: 3iiDii] This suggests that cord blood can provide an additional donor pool for this group of children. The use of reduced-intensity preparative regimens to reduce the adverse side effects of transplantation have also been reported in small numbers of patients, with variable success.[31][32]

Disease recurrence is the primary cause of treatment failure for children with JMML after HSCT and occurs in 30% to 40% of cases.[20][27][28] While the role of donor lymphocyte infusions is uncertain,[33] it has been reported that approximately 50% of patients with relapsed JMML can be successfully treated with a second HSCT.[34]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

The following is an example of national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted for patients with newly diagnosed JMML. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  • ASCT1221 (NCT01824693) (Busulfan, Cyclophosphamide, and Melphalan or Busulfan and Fludarabine Phosphate Before Donor Hematopoietic Cell Transplant in Treating Younger Patients With JMML): This randomized phase II clinical trial is evaluating the efficacy of busulfan, cyclophosphamide, and melphalan compared with busulfan and fludarabine phosphate as preparative regimens administered prior to allogeneic stem cell transplantation for children with newly diagnosed JMML.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Aricò M, Biondi A, Pui CH: Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Blood 90 (2): 479-88, 1997.

  2. Chan RJ, Cooper T, Kratz CP, et al.: Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: a report from the 2nd International JMML Symposium. Leuk Res 33 (3): 355-62, 2009.

  3. Loh ML: Recent advances in the pathogenesis and treatment of juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia. Br J Haematol 152 (6): 677-87, 2011.

  4. Bresolin S, Zecca M, Flotho C, et al.: Gene expression-based classification as an independent predictor of clinical outcome in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. J Clin Oncol 28 (11): 1919-27, 2010.

  5. Olk-Batz C, Poetsch AR, Nöllke P, et al.: Aberrant DNA methylation characterizes juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia with poor outcome. Blood 117 (18): 4871-80, 2011.

  6. Stiller CA, Chessells JM, Fitchett M: Neurofibromatosis and childhood leukaemia/lymphoma: a population-based UKCCSG study. Br J Cancer 70 (5): 969-72, 1994.

  7. Choong K, Freedman MH, Chitayat D, et al.: Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia and Noonan syndrome. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 21 (6): 523-7, 1999 Nov-Dec.

  8. Niemeyer CM, Arico M, Basso G, et al.: Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in childhood: a retrospective analysis of 110 cases. European Working Group on Myelodysplastic Syndromes in Childhood (EWOG-MDS) Blood 89 (10): 3534-43, 1997.

  9. Sakaguchi H, Okuno Y, Muramatsu H, et al.: Exome sequencing identifies secondary mutations of SETBP1 and JAK3 in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Nat Genet 45 (8): 937-41, 2013.

  10. Flotho C, Valcamonica S, Mach-Pascual S, et al.: RAS mutations and clonality analysis in children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). Leukemia 13 (1): 32-7, 1999.

  11. Miyauchi J, Asada M, Sasaki M, et al.: Mutations of the N-ras gene in juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood 83 (8): 2248-54, 1994.

  12. Side LE, Emanuel PD, Taylor B, et al.: Mutations of the NF1 gene in children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia without clinical evidence of neurofibromatosis, type 1. Blood 92 (1): 267-72, 1998.

  13. Tartaglia M, Niemeyer CM, Fragale A, et al.: Somatic mutations in PTPN11 in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. Nat Genet 34 (2): 148-50, 2003.

  14. Loh ML, Vattikuti S, Schubbert S, et al.: Mutations in PTPN11 implicate the SHP-2 phosphatase in leukemogenesis. Blood 103 (6): 2325-31, 2004.

  15. Loh ML, Sakai DS, Flotho C, et al.: Mutations in CBL occur frequently in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Blood 114 (9): 1859-63, 2009.

  16. Muramatsu H, Makishima H, Jankowska AM, et al.: Mutations of an E3 ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl but not TET2 mutations are pathogenic in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Blood 115 (10): 1969-75, 2010.

  17. Niemeyer CM, Kang MW, Shin DH, et al.: Germline CBL mutations cause developmental abnormalities and predispose to juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Nat Genet 42 (9): 794-800, 2010.

  18. Pérez B, Mechinaud F, Galambrun C, et al.: Germline mutations of the CBL gene define a new genetic syndrome with predisposition to juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia. J Med Genet 47 (10): 686-91, 2010.

  19. Freedman MH, Estrov Z, Chan HS: Juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia. Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 10 (3): 261-7, 1988 Fall.

  20. Locatelli F, Nöllke P, Zecca M, et al.: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML): results of the EWOG-MDS/EBMT trial. Blood 105 (1): 410-9, 2005.

  21. Passmore SJ, Chessells JM, Kempski H, et al.: Paediatric myelodysplastic syndromes and juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia in the UK: a population-based study of incidence and survival. Br J Haematol 121 (5): 758-67, 2003.

  22. Loh ML: Childhood myelodysplastic syndrome: focus on the approach to diagnosis and treatment of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program 2010: 357-62, 2010.

  23. Bergstraesser E, Hasle H, Rogge T, et al.: Non-hematopoietic stem cell transplantation treatment of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: a retrospective analysis and definition of response criteria. Pediatr Blood Cancer 49 (5): 629-33, 2007.

  24. Castleberry RP, Emanuel PD, Zuckerman KS, et al.: A pilot study of isotretinoin in the treatment of juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia. N Engl J Med 331 (25): 1680-4, 1994.

  25. Woods WG, Barnard DR, Alonzo TA, et al.: Prospective study of 90 children requiring treatment for juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome: a report from the Children's Cancer Group. J Clin Oncol 20 (2): 434-40, 2002.

  26. Hasle H: Myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative disorders in children. Curr Opin Pediatr 19 (1): 1-8, 2007.

  27. Smith FO, King R, Nelson G, et al.: Unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation for children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia. Br J Haematol 116 (3): 716-24, 2002.

  28. Yusuf U, Frangoul HA, Gooley TA, et al.: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in children with myelodysplastic syndrome or juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: the Seattle experience. Bone Marrow Transplant 33 (8): 805-14, 2004.

  29. Baker D, Cole C, Price J, et al.: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia without total body irradiation. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 26 (3): 200-3, 2004.

  30. Locatelli F, Crotta A, Ruggeri A, et al.: Analysis of risk factors influencing outcomes after cord blood transplantation in children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: a EUROCORD, EBMT, EWOG-MDS, CIBMTR study. Blood 122 (12): 2135-41, 2013.

  31. Yabe M, Sako M, Yabe H, et al.: A conditioning regimen of busulfan, fludarabine, and melphalan for allogeneic stem cell transplantation in children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Pediatr Transplant 12 (8): 862-7, 2008.

  32. Koyama M, Nakano T, Takeshita Y, et al.: Successful treatment of JMML with related bone marrow transplantation after reduced-intensity conditioning. Bone Marrow Transplant 36 (5): 453-4; author reply 454, 2005.

  33. Yoshimi A, Bader P, Matthes-Martin S, et al.: Donor leukocyte infusion after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in patients with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Leukemia 19 (6): 971-7, 2005.

  34. Yoshimi A, Mohamed M, Bierings M, et al.: Second allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) results in outcome similar to that of first HSCT for patients with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Leukemia 21 (3): 556-60, 2007.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) accounts for less than 5% of all childhood leukemia, and in the pediatric age range, occurs most commonly in older adolescents.[1] The cytogenetic abnormality most characteristic of CML is the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph), which represents a translocation of chromosomes 9 and 22 (t(9;22)) resulting in a BCR-ABL fusion protein.[2] CML is characterized by a marked leukocytosis and is often associated with thrombocytosis, sometimes with abnormal platelet function. Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy reveals hypercellularity with relatively normal granulocytic maturation and no significant increase in leukemic blasts. Although reduced leukocyte alkaline phosphatase activity is seen in CML, this is not a specific finding.

CML has three clinical phases: chronic, accelerated, and blast crisis. Chronic phase, which lasts for approximately 3 years if untreated, usually presents with side effects secondary to hyperleukocytosis such as weakness, fever, night sweats, bone pain, respiratory distress, priapism, left upper quadrant pain (splenomegaly), and, rarely, hearing loss and visual disturbances. The accelerated phase is characterized by progressive splenomegaly, thrombocytopenia, and increased percentage of peripheral and bone marrow blasts, along with accumulation of karyotypic abnormalities in addition to the Ph chromosome. Blast crisis is notable for the bone marrow, showing greater than 30% blasts and a clinical picture that is indistinguishable from acute leukemia. Approximately two-thirds of blast crisis is myeloid, and the remainder is lymphoid, usually of B lineage. Patients in blast crisis will die within a few months.[3]

Before the tyrosine kinase inhibitor era, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) was the primary treatment for children with CML. Published reports from this period described survival rates of 70% to 80% when an HLA-matched family donor (MFD) was used in the treatment of children in early chronic phase, with lower survival rates when HLA-matched unrelated donors were used.[4][5][6] Relapse rates were low (less than 20%) when transplant was performed in chronic phase.[4][5] The primary cause of death was treatment-related mortality, which was increased with HLA-matched unrelated donors compared with HLA-MFDs in most reports.[4][5] High-resolution DNA matching for HLA alleles appeared to reduce rates of treatment-related mortality leading to improved outcome for HSCT using unrelated donors.[7] Compared with transplantation in chronic phase, transplantation in accelerated phase or blast crisis and in second chronic phase resulted in significantly reduced survival.[4][5][6] The use of T-lymphocyte depletion to avoid graft-versus-host disease resulted in a higher relapse rate and decreased overall survival (OS),[8] supporting the contribution of a graft-versus-leukemia effect to favorable outcome following allogeneic HSCT.

The introduction of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) imatinib (Gleevec) as a therapeutic drug targeted at inhibiting the BCR-ABL fusion kinase revolutionized the treatment of patients with CML for both children and adults.[9] As most data for the use of TKIs for CML is from adult clinical trials, the adult experience is initially described, followed by a description of the more limited experience for children.

Treatment of CML in Adults with TKIs

Imatinib is a potent inhibitor of the ABL tyrosine kinase, and also of PDGF receptors (alpha and beta) and KIT. Imatinib treatment achieves clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular remissions (as defined by the absence of BCR-ABL fusion transcripts) in a high proportion of CML patients treated in chronic phase.[10] Imatinib replaced the use of alpha-interferon in the initial treatment of CML based on the results of a large phase III trial comparing imatinib with interferon plus cytarabine (IRIS).[11][12] Patients receiving imatinib had higher complete cytogenetic response rates (76% vs. 14% at 18 months) [11] and the rate of treatment failure diminished over time, from 3.3% and 7.5% in the first and second years of imatinib treatment, respectively, to less than 1% by the fifth year of treatment.[12] After censoring for patients who died from causes unrelated to CML or transplantation, the overall estimated survival rate for patients randomly assigned to imatinib was 95% at 60 months.[12]

Guidelines for imatinib treatment have been developed for adults with CML based on patient response to treatment, including the timing of achieving complete hematologic response, complete cytogenetic response, and major molecular response (defined as attainment of a 3-log reduction in BCR-ABL/control gene ratio).[13][14][15][16] The identification of BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations at the time of failure or of suboptimal response to imatinib treatment also has clinical implications,[17] as there are alternative BCR-ABL kinase inhibitors (e.g., dasatinib and nilotinib) that maintain their activity against some (but not all) mutations that confer resistance to imatinib.[13][18][19] Poor adherence is a major reason for loss of complete cytogenetic response and imatinib failure for adult CML patients on long-term therapy.[20]

Several additional TKIs have received regulatory approval for the frontline chronic phase CML indication: nilotinib and dasatinib.

  • Dasatinib was approved on the basis of a phase III trial comparing dasatinib (100 mg daily) with imatinib (400 mg daily).[21]
  • Nilotinib (at a dose of either 300 mg or 400 mg twice daily) was compared in a phase III trial with imatinib (400 mg daily).[22]
  • Bosutinib is another TKI that targets the BCR-ABL fusion and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of all phases of CML in adults who show intolerance to or whose disease shows resistance to prior therapy.

For both dasatinib and nilotinib, superiority over imatinib was demonstrated for complete cytogenetic response rate and for major molecular response rate, which has led to the use of these agents as first-line therapy in adults with CML. These agents have not been extensively tested in children. Additional follow-up will be required to demonstrate the impact of these agents on clinical endpoints such as progression to accelerated/blast phase and OS.

The optimal duration of therapy remains unknown and most patients continue TKI treatment indefinitely. However, in an attempt to answer the question of length of treatment, a prospective study reported on 69 adults treated with imatinib for more than 2 years and had been in a cytogenetic major response for more than 2 years. The patients were followed monthly and restarted on imatinib if there was evidence of molecular relapse. Of this group, 61% experienced disease relapse, with about 38% still in cytogenetic major response at 24 months. Of note, all of the patients who had disease recurrence responded again to the reinitiation of imatinib.[23] Another study reported on 12 patients with CML who had been in molecular remission for 32 months and were on imatinib therapy for 45 months before treatment was stopped. At a median follow up of 18 months, 6 of 12 patients remained in remission. Those patients who had disease recurrence responded to reinitiation of imatinib.[24] Further research is required before cessation of imatinib or other BCR-ABL targeted therapy for selected patients with CML in molecular remission can be recommended as a standard clinical practice.

Treatment of CML in Children

Imatinib has shown a high level of activity in children with CML that is comparable to that observed in adults, with approximately 75% achieving a complete cytogenetic response and with approximately 20% showing an unsatisfactory response to imatinib.[25][26][27][27][27][28] As a result of this high level of activity, it is common to initiate treatment of children with CML with imatinib rather than proceeding immediately to allogeneic stem cell transplantation.[29] The pharmacokinetics of imatinib in children appears consistent with prior results in adults.[30] Doses of imatinib used in phase II trials for children with CML have been 260 mg/m2 to 340 mg/m2, which provide comparable drug exposures as the adult flat doses of 400 mg to 600 mg.[27][28] Because there are no pediatric-specific data regarding optimal timing of monitoring for BCR-ABL transcript levels and for the presence of BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations, the monitoring guidelines described above for adults with CML are reasonable to utilize.

Imatinib is generally well tolerated in children, with adverse effects usually being mild to moderate and quickly reversible with treatment discontinuation or dose reduction.[27][28] Growth retardation occurs in some children receiving imatinib.[31] The growth inhibitory effects of imatinib appear to be most pronounced in prepubertal children, compared with pubertal children; children receiving imatinib and experiencing growth impairment may show a return to normal growth rates when they reach puberty.[31]

Second generation BCR-ABL inhibitors (dasatinib and nilotinib) have been approved by FDA for treatment of imatinib-refractory CML in adults.[21][22] These agents are active against many BCR-ABL mutants that confer resistance to imatinib, although the agents are ineffective in patients with the T315I BCR-ABL mutation. Based on their activity in adults with CML, other BCR-ABL TKIs have been studied in children. Dasatinib has undergone phase I testing in children and showed drug disposition, tolerability, and efficacy for patients with CML that was similar to that observed in adults.[32][33] Ponatinib is a BCR-ABL inhibitor that is effective against the T315I mutation.[34] Ponatinib induced objective responses in approximately 70% of heavily pretreated adults with chronic phase CML, with responses observed regardless of the baseline BCR-ABL kinase domain mutation.[35] Development of ponatinib has been complicated by the high rate of vascular occlusion observed in patients receiving the agent, with arterial and venous thrombosis and occlusions (including myocardial infarction and stroke) occurring in more than 20% of treated patients.[36] There is no published experience describing the use of ponatinib in children.[37]

In children who develop a hematologic or cytogenetic relapse on imatinib or who have an inadequate initial response to imatinib, determination of BCR-ABL kinase domain mutation status should be considered to help guide subsequent therapy. Depending upon the patient’s mutation status, alternative kinase inhibitors such as dasatinib or nilotinib can be considered based on adult experience with these agents.[21][22][38][39][40] A pediatric phase I study of dasatinib showed good tolerance for dasatinib in children at doses used to treat adults with CML,[32] and nilotinib is under investigation in children with CML or Ph chromosome–positive ALL (NCT01077544 [CAMN107A2120]). These agents are active against many BCR-ABL mutants that confer resistance to imatinib, although the agents are ineffective in patients with the T315I mutation. In the presence of the T315I mutation, which is resistant to all FDA-approved kinase inhibitors, strong consideration should be given to performing an allogeneic transplant.

An unanswered question is the impact of imatinib treatment on outcome for patients who subsequently proceed to allogeneic HSCT. A retrospective study that compared145 patients who received imatinib before transplant with a historical cohort of 231 patients who did not showed no difference in early hepatic toxic effects or engraftment delay.[41] In addition, OS, disease-free survival, relapse, and nonrelapse mortality were similar between the two cohorts. The only factor associated with poor outcome in the cohort that received imatinib was a poor initial response to imatinib. Further evidence for a lack of effect of pretransplant imatinib on posttransplant outcomes was supplied by a report from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research comparing outcomes for 181 pediatric and adult subjects with CML in first chronic phase treated with imatinib before HSCT with that for 657 subjects who did not receive the agent before HSCT.[42] Among the patients in first chronic phase, imatinib therapy before HSCT was associated with better OS. A third report of imatinib followed by allogeneic HSCT supports the efficacy of this transplantation strategy in patients with imatinib failure in first chronic phase; the 3-year OS rate was 94% for this group (n = 37), with approximately 90% achieving a complete molecular remission after HSCT.[13] Treatment of patients with two different TKIs prior to HSCT also does not appear to influence outcomes of patients in chronic-phase CML.[43] The available data suggest that imatinib before transplant does not have a deleterious effect on outcome.

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

Based on their activity in adults with CML, other BCR-ABL TKIs are being studied in children. Dasatinib has undergone phase I testing in children and showed drug disposition, tolerability, and efficacy for patients with CML that was similar to that observed in adults. A phase II clinical trial of dasatinib for children with CML is ongoing (NCT00777036). Nilotinib is under investigation in children with CML or Ph chromosome–positive ALL in a clinical trial to determine the pharmacokinetics of nilotinib in children (NCT01077544 [CAMN107A2120]). A phase II evaluation of nilotinib in children with CML has been initiated (NCT01844765)..

The following are examples of national and/or institutional clinical trials that are currently being conducted for patients with CML. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site

  • NCT00777036 (A Phase II Study of Dasatinib in Children and Adolescents With Newly Diagnosed Chronic Phase CML or With Ph+ Leukemias Resistant or Intolerant to Imatinib): A phase II clinical trial of dasatinib is being conducted to determine whether dasatinib is safe and effective in children and adolescents with newly diagnosed CML, or in children with Ph-positive ALL, accelerated or blast phases CML who relapse after imatinib or who are resistant or intolerant to imatinib.
  • NCT01077544 (A Pharmacokinetic (PK) Study of Nilotinib in Pediatric Patients With Philadelphia Chromosome-positive (Ph+) Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL): A clinical trial is assessing the pharmacokinetics of nilotinib in Ph-positive CML pediatric patients that are newly diagnosed or resistant or intolerant to imatinib or dasatinib or refractory or relapsed Ph-positive ALL. Efficacy and safety are being evaluated as secondary objectives.
  • NCT01844765 (Open Label, Phase II Study to Evaluate Efficacy and Safety of Oral Nilotinib in Philadelphia Positive (Ph+) Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) Pediatric Patients): A phase II clinical trial of nilotinib is evaluating the safety and efficacy of nilotinib in the Ph-positive CML in pediatric patients (aged 1 to <18 years).

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood chronic myelogenous leukemia. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Ries LA, Smith MA, Gurney JG, et al., eds.: Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER Program 1975-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, 1999. NIH Pub.No. 99-4649. Also available online. Last accessed August 15, 2014.

  2. Quintás-Cardama A, Cortes J: Molecular biology of bcr-abl1-positive chronic myeloid leukemia. Blood 113 (8): 1619-30, 2009.

  3. O'Dwyer ME, Mauro MJ, Kurilik G, et al.: The impact of clonal evolution on response to imatinib mesylate (STI571) in accelerated phase CML. Blood 100 (5): 1628-33, 2002.

  4. Millot F, Esperou H, Bordigoni P, et al.: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia in childhood: a report from the Société Française de Greffe de Moelle et de Thérapie Cellulaire (SFGM-TC). Bone Marrow Transplant 32 (10): 993-9, 2003.

  5. Cwynarski K, Roberts IA, Iacobelli S, et al.: Stem cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia in children. Blood 102 (4): 1224-31, 2003.

  6. Weisdorf DJ, Anasetti C, Antin JH, et al.: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for chronic myelogenous leukemia: comparative analysis of unrelated versus matched sibling donor transplantation. Blood 99 (6): 1971-7, 2002.

  7. Lee SJ, Klein J, Haagenson M, et al.: High-resolution donor-recipient HLA matching contributes to the success of unrelated donor marrow transplantation. Blood 110 (13): 4576-83, 2007.

  8. Horowitz MM, Gale RP, Sondel PM, et al.: Graft-versus-leukemia reactions after bone marrow transplantation. Blood 75 (3): 555-62, 1990.

  9. Druker BJ: Translation of the Philadelphia chromosome into therapy for CML. Blood 112 (13): 4808-17, 2008.

  10. Kantarjian H, Sawyers C, Hochhaus A, et al.: Hematologic and cytogenetic responses to imatinib mesylate in chronic myelogenous leukemia. N Engl J Med 346 (9): 645-52, 2002.

  11. O'Brien SG, Guilhot F, Larson RA, et al.: Imatinib compared with interferon and low-dose cytarabine for newly diagnosed chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia. N Engl J Med 348 (11): 994-1004, 2003.

  12. Druker BJ, Guilhot F, O'Brien SG, et al.: Five-year follow-up of patients receiving imatinib for chronic myeloid leukemia. N Engl J Med 355 (23): 2408-17, 2006.

  13. Saussele S, Lauseker M, Gratwohl A, et al.: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo SCT) for chronic myeloid leukemia in the imatinib era: evaluation of its impact within a subgroup of the randomized German CML Study IV. Blood 115 (10): 1880-5, 2010.

  14. Hughes TP, Hochhaus A, Branford S, et al.: Long-term prognostic significance of early molecular response to imatinib in newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia: an analysis from the International Randomized Study of Interferon and STI571 (IRIS). Blood 116 (19): 3758-65, 2010.

  15. Kantarjian H, Cortes J: Considerations in the management of patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia receiving tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. J Clin Oncol 29 (12): 1512-6, 2011.

  16. Bisen A, Claxton DF: Tyrosine kinase targeted treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and other myeloproliferative neoplasms. Adv Exp Med Biol 779: 179-96, 2013.

  17. Soverini S, Hochhaus A, Nicolini FE, et al.: BCR-ABL kinase domain mutation analysis in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors: recommendations from an expert panel on behalf of European LeukemiaNet. Blood 118 (5): 1208-15, 2011.

  18. Hazarika M, Jiang X, Liu Q, et al.: Tasigna for chronic and accelerated phase Philadelphia chromosome--positive chronic myelogenous leukemia resistant to or intolerant of imatinib. Clin Cancer Res 14 (17): 5325-31, 2008.

  19. Brave M, Goodman V, Kaminskas E, et al.: Sprycel for chronic myeloid leukemia and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia resistant to or intolerant of imatinib mesylate. Clin Cancer Res 14 (2): 352-9, 2008.

  20. Ibrahim AR, Eliasson L, Apperley JF, et al.: Poor adherence is the main reason for loss of CCyR and imatinib failure for chronic myeloid leukemia patients on long-term therapy. Blood 117 (14): 3733-6, 2011.

  21. Kantarjian H, Shah NP, Hochhaus A, et al.: Dasatinib versus imatinib in newly diagnosed chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia. N Engl J Med 362 (24): 2260-70, 2010.

  22. Saglio G, Kim DW, Issaragrisil S, et al.: Nilotinib versus imatinib for newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia. N Engl J Med 362 (24): 2251-9, 2010.

  23. Mahon FX, Réa D, Guilhot J, et al.: Discontinuation of imatinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia who have maintained complete molecular remission for at least 2 years: the prospective, multicentre Stop Imatinib (STIM) trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (11): 1029-35, 2010.

  24. Rousselot P, Huguet F, Rea D, et al.: Imatinib mesylate discontinuation in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in complete molecular remission for more than 2 years. Blood 109 (1): 58-60, 2007.

  25. Champagne MA, Capdeville R, Krailo M, et al.: Imatinib mesylate (STI571) for treatment of children with Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemia: results from a Children's Oncology Group phase 1 study. Blood 104 (9): 2655-60, 2004.

  26. Millot F, Guilhot J, Nelken B, et al.: Imatinib mesylate is effective in children with chronic myelogenous leukemia in late chronic and advanced phase and in relapse after stem cell transplantation. Leukemia 20 (2): 187-92, 2006.

  27. Millot F, Baruchel A, Guilhot J, et al.: Imatinib is effective in children with previously untreated chronic myelogenous leukemia in early chronic phase: results of the French national phase IV trial. J Clin Oncol 29 (20): 2827-32, 2011.

  28. Champagne MA, Fu CH, Chang M, et al.: Higher dose imatinib for children with de novo chronic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (1): 56-62, 2011.

  29. Andolina JR, Neudorf SM, Corey SJ: How I treat childhood CML. Blood 119 (8): 1821-30, 2012.

  30. Menon-Andersen D, Mondick JT, Jayaraman B, et al.: Population pharmacokinetics of imatinib mesylate and its metabolite in children and young adults. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 63 (2): 229-38, 2009.

  31. Shima H, Tokuyama M, Tanizawa A, et al.: Distinct impact of imatinib on growth at prepubertal and pubertal ages of children with chronic myeloid leukemia. J Pediatr 159 (4): 676-81, 2011.

  32. Aplenc R, Blaney SM, Strauss LC, et al.: Pediatric phase I trial and pharmacokinetic study of dasatinib: a report from the children's oncology group phase I consortium. J Clin Oncol 29 (7): 839-44, 2011.

  33. Zwaan CM, Rizzari C, Mechinaud F, et al.: Dasatinib in children and adolescents with relapsed or refractory leukemia: results of the CA180-018 phase I dose-escalation study of the Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Consortium. J Clin Oncol 31 (19): 2460-8, 2013.

  34. O'Hare T, Shakespeare WC, Zhu X, et al.: AP24534, a pan-BCR-ABL inhibitor for chronic myeloid leukemia, potently inhibits the T315I mutant and overcomes mutation-based resistance. Cancer Cell 16 (5): 401-12, 2009.

  35. Cortes JE, Kim DW, Pinilla-Ibarz J, et al.: A phase 2 trial of ponatinib in Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemias. N Engl J Med 369 (19): 1783-96, 2013.

  36. Prasad V, Mailankody S: The accelerated approval of oncologic drugs: lessons from ponatinib. JAMA 311 (4): 353-4, 2014 Jan 22-29.

  37. Cortes JE, Kantarjian H, Shah NP, et al.: Ponatinib in refractory Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemias. N Engl J Med 367 (22): 2075-88, 2012.

  38. Hochhaus A, Baccarani M, Deininger M, et al.: Dasatinib induces durable cytogenetic responses in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in chronic phase with resistance or intolerance to imatinib. Leukemia 22 (6): 1200-6, 2008.

  39. le Coutre P, Ottmann OG, Giles F, et al.: Nilotinib (formerly AMN107), a highly selective BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is active in patients with imatinib-resistant or -intolerant accelerated-phase chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood 111 (4): 1834-9, 2008.

  40. Kantarjian H, O'Brien S, Talpaz M, et al.: Outcome of patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia post-imatinib mesylate failure. Cancer 109 (8): 1556-60, 2007.

  41. Oehler VG, Gooley T, Snyder DS, et al.: The effects of imatinib mesylate treatment before allogeneic transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia. Blood 109 (4): 1782-9, 2007.

  42. Lee SJ, Kukreja M, Wang T, et al.: Impact of prior imatinib mesylate on the outcome of hematopoietic cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia. Blood 112 (8): 3500-7, 2008.

  43. Latif AL, McQuaker G, Parker A, et al.: Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukaemia is safe and effective in high risk patients following second generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors: A single centre's experience. Leuk Res Rep 2 (2): 47-50, 2013.

Recurrent Childhood AML and Other Myeloid Malignancies

Despite second remission induction in over one-half of children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treated with drugs similar to drugs used in initial induction therapy, the prognosis for a child with recurrent or progressive AML is generally poor.[1][2] Approximately 50% to 60% of relapses occur within the first year after diagnosis, with most relapses occurring by 4 years from diagnosis.[1] The vast majority of relapses occur in the bone marrow, with central nervous system (CNS) relapse being very uncommon.[1] Length of first remission is an important factor affecting the ability to attain a second remission; children with a first remission of less than 1 year have substantially lower rates of remission than children whose first remission is greater than 1 year (50%–60% vs. 70%–90%, respectively).[2][3][4] Survival for children with shorter first remissions is also substantially lower (approximately 10%) than that for children with first remissions exceeding 1 year (approximately 40%).[2][3][4][5]

Regimens that have been successfully used to induce remission in children with recurrent AML have commonly included high-dose cytarabine given in combination with other agents, such as mitoxantrone,[2] fludarabine and idarubicin,[6][7][8], L-asparaginase,[9] etoposide, and clofarabine and etoposide. Regimens built upon clofarabine have also been used;[10][11][12][Level of evidence: 2Div] as have regimens of 2-chloroadenosine.[13] The standard-dose cytarabine regimens used in the United Kingdom Medical Research Council AML 10 study for newly diagnosed children with AML (cytarabine and daunorubicin plus either etoposide or thioguanine) have, when used in the setting of relapse, produced remission rates similar to those achieved with high-dose cytarabine regimens.[4]

In a report of 379 children with AML who relapsed after initial treatment on the German Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster (BFM) group protocols, a second complete remission rate was 63% and overall survival (OS) was 23%.[14][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] The most significant prognostic factors associated with a favorable outcome after relapse included achieving second complete remission, a relapse greater than 12 months from initial diagnosis, no allogeneic bone marrow transplant in first remission, and favorable cytogenetics (t(8;21), t(15;17), and inv(16)). A subsequent study by the BFM group compared fludarabine, cytarabine, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (FLAG) with FLAG plus liposomal daunorubicin. Four-year OS was 38%, with no difference in survival for the total group; however, the addition of liposomal daunorubicin increased the likelihood of obtaining a remission and led to significant improvement in OS in patients with core binding factor mutations (82%, FLAG plus liposomal daunorubicin vs. 58%, FLAG; P = .04).[15][Level of evidence: 1iiA] The Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia and Lymphoma Consortium also identified duration of previous remission as a powerful prognostic factor, with 5-year OS rates of 54% ± 10% for patients with greater than 12 months first remission duration and 19% ± 6% for patients with shorter periods of first remission.[16] A retrospective study of 71 patients with relapsed AML from Japan reported a 5-year OS rate of 37%. Patients who had an early relapse had a 27% second remission rate compared with 88% for patients who had a late relapse. The 5-year OS rate was higher in patients who went to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) after achieving a second complete remission (66%) than in patients not in remission (17%).[5]

The selection of further treatment after the achievement of a second remission depends on prior treatment as well as individual considerations. Consolidation chemotherapy followed by HSCT is conventionally recommended, though there are no controlled prospective data regarding the contribution of additional courses of therapy once second complete remission is obtained.[1] Unrelated donor HSCT has been reported to result in 5-year probabilities of leukemia-free survival of 45%, 20%, and 12% for patients with AML transplanted in second complete remission, overt relapse, and primary induction failure, respectively.[17][Level of evidence: 3iiA] The optimal type of transplant preparative regimen and source of donor cells has not been determined, although alternative donor sources, including haploidentical donors, are being studied.[18] Of note, a number of studies, including a large, prospective Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) cohort study of children and adults with myeloid diseases, have shown similar or superior survival with busulfan-based regimens compared with total-body irradiation (TBI).[19][20][21]

There is evidence that long-term survival can be achieved in a portion of pediatric patients who undergo a second transplant subsequent to relapse after a first myeloablative transplant. Survival was associated with late relapse (>6 months from first transplant), achievement of complete response before the second procedure, and use of a TBI-based regimen (after receiving a non-TBI regimen for the first procedure).[22][23] A large prospective cohort study that included children and adults with myeloid diseases showed comparable or superior outcome with busulfan-based regimens compared with TBI.[21]

Clinical trials, including new chemotherapy and/or biologic agents and/or novel bone marrow transplant (autologous, matched or mismatched unrelated donor, cord blood) programs, are also considerations. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Relapse in Children with Down Syndrome

A small number of publications address outcomes in children with Down syndrome who relapse after initial therapy or who have refractory AML. The Japanese Pediatric Leukemia/Lymphoma Study Group reported the outcomes of 29 Down syndrome patients with relapsed (n = 26) or refractory (n = 3) AML. As expected with Down syndrome, the children in this cohort were very young (median age, 2 years); relapses were almost all early (median 8.6 months, 80% <12 months from diagnosis); and 89% had M7 French-American-British classification. In contrast to the excellent outcomes achieved after initial therapy, only 50% of the children attained a second remission, and the 3-year OS rate was 26%.[24][Level of evidence: 3iiA] Approximately one-half of the children underwent allogeneic transplant, and no advantage was noted with transplant compared with chemotherapy, but numbers were small. A CIBMTR study of children with Down syndrome and AML who underwent HSCT reported a similarly poor outcome, with a 3-year OS of 19%.[25][Level of evidence: 3iiA] The main cause of failure after transplant was relapse, which exceeded 60%; transplant-related mortality was approximately 20%. A Japanese registry study reported better survival after transplant of children with Down Syndrome using reduced intensity conditioning regimens compared with myeloablative approaches, but numbers were very small (n = 5) and the efficacy of reduced intensity approaches in Down children with AML requires further study.[26][Level of evidence 3iDi]

Isolated CNS Relapse

Isolated CNS relapse occurs in 3% to 5% of pediatric AML patients.[27][28] Factors associated with an increased risk of isolated CNS relapse include the following:[27]

  • Age younger than 2 years at initial diagnosis.
  • M5 leukemia.
  • 11q23 abnormalities.
  • CNS involvement at initial diagnosis.

The outcome of isolated CNS relapse when treated as a systemic relapse is similar to that of bone marrow relapse. In one study, the 8-year OS for a cohort of children with an isolated CNS relapse was 26% ± 16%.[27]

Recurrent Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)

Despite the improvement in outcomes for patients with newly diagnosed APL, approximately 10% to 20% of patients relapse.

An important issue in children is the prior exposure to anthracyclines, which can range from 400 mg/m2 to 750 mg/m2.[29] Thus, regimens containing anthracyclines are often not optimal for children with APL who suffer relapse. For children with recurrent APL, the use of arsenic trioxide as a single agent or regimens including all-trans retinoic acid should be considered, depending on the therapy given during first remission. Arsenic trioxide is an active agent in patients with recurrent APL, with approximately 85% of patients achieving remission after treatment with this agent.[30][31][32][33] Data are limited on the use of arsenic trioxide in children, although published reports suggest that children with relapsed APL have a response to arsenic trioxide similar to that of adults.[30][32][34] Because arsenic trioxide causes QT interval prolongation that can lead to life-threatening arrhythmias,[35] it is essential to monitor electrolytes closely in patients receiving arsenic trioxide and to maintain potassium and magnesium values at midnormal ranges.[36] The use of anti-CD33/calicheamicin monoclonal antibody as a single agent resulted in 91% (9 of 11 patients) molecular remission after two doses and in 100% of patients (13 of 13) after three doses, thus demonstrating excellent activity of this agent in relapsed APL.[37]

Retrospective pediatric studies have reported 5-year event-free survival (EFS) rates after either autologous or allogeneic transplantation approaches to be similar at approximately 70%.[38][39] When considering autologous transplantation, a study in adult patients demonstrated improved 7-year EFS (77% vs. 50%) when both the patient and the stem cell product had negative promyelocytic leukemia/retinoic acid receptor alpha fusion transcript by polymerase chain reaction (molecular remission) before transplant.[40] Another study demonstrated that among seven patients undergoing autologous HSCT and whose cells were minimal residual disease (MRD)-positive, all relapsed in less than 9 months after transplantation; however, only one of eight patients whose autologous donor cells were MRD-negative relapsed.[41] Another report demonstrated that the 5-year EFS was 83.3% for patients who underwent autologous HSCT in second molecular remission and was 34.5% for patients who received only maintenance therapy.[42] Such data support the use of autologous transplantation in patients who are MRD-negative in second complete remission who have poorly matched allogeneic donors.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent childhood acute myeloid leukemia. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

  1. Webb DK: Management of relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia. Br J Haematol 106 (4): 851-9, 1999.

  2. Wells RJ, Adams MT, Alonzo TA, et al.: Mitoxantrone and cytarabine induction, high-dose cytarabine, and etoposide intensification for pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia: Children's Cancer Group Study 2951. J Clin Oncol 21 (15): 2940-7, 2003.

  3. Stahnke K, Boos J, Bender-Götze C, et al.: Duration of first remission predicts remission rates and long-term survival in children with relapsed acute myelogenous leukemia. Leukemia 12 (10): 1534-8, 1998.

  4. Webb DK, Wheatley K, Harrison G, et al.: Outcome for children with relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia following initial therapy in the Medical Research Council (MRC) AML 10 trial. MRC Childhood Leukaemia Working Party. Leukemia 13 (1): 25-31, 1999.

  5. Nakayama H, Tabuchi K, Tawa A, et al.: Outcome of children with relapsed acute myeloid leukemia following initial therapy under the AML99 protocol. Int J Hematol 100 (2): 171-9, 2014.

  6. Dinndorf PA, Avramis VI, Wiersma S, et al.: Phase I/II study of idarubicin given with continuous infusion fludarabine followed by continuous infusion cytarabine in children with acute leukemia: a report from the Children's Cancer Group. J Clin Oncol 15 (8): 2780-5, 1997.

  7. Fleischhack G, Hasan C, Graf N, et al.: IDA-FLAG (idarubicin, fludarabine, cytarabine, G-CSF), an effective remission-induction therapy for poor-prognosis AML of childhood prior to allogeneic or autologous bone marrow transplantation: experiences of a phase II trial. Br J Haematol 102 (3): 647-55, 1998.

  8. Tavil B, Aytac S, Balci YI, et al.: Fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin (FLAG-IDA) for the treatment of children with poor-prognosis acute leukemia: the Hacettepe experience. Pediatr Hematol Oncol 27 (7): 517-28, 2010.

  9. Capizzi RL, Davis R, Powell B, et al.: Synergy between high-dose cytarabine and asparaginase in the treatment of adults with refractory and relapsed acute myelogenous leukemia--a Cancer and Leukemia Group B Study. J Clin Oncol 6 (3): 499-508, 1988.

  10. Hijiya N, Gaynon P, Barry E, et al.: A multi-center phase I study of clofarabine, etoposide and cyclophosphamide in combination in pediatric patients with refractory or relapsed acute leukemia. Leukemia 23 (12): 2259-64, 2009.

  11. Jeha S, Razzouk B, Rytting M, et al.: Phase II study of clofarabine in pediatric patients with refractory or relapsed acute myeloid leukemia. J Clin Oncol 27 (26): 4392-7, 2009.

  12. Shukla N, Kobos R, Renaud T, et al.: Phase II trial of clofarabine with topotecan, vinorelbine, and thiotepa in pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory acute leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (3): 431-5, 2014.

  13. Chaleff S, Hurwitz CA, Chang M, et al.: Phase II study of 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine plus idarubicin for children with acute myeloid leukaemia in first relapse: a paediatric oncology group study. Br J Haematol 156 (5): 649-55, 2012.

  14. Sander A, Zimmermann M, Dworzak M, et al.: Consequent and intensified relapse therapy improved survival in pediatric AML: results of relapse treatment in 379 patients of three consecutive AML-BFM trials. Leukemia 24 (8): 1422-8, 2010.

  15. Kaspers GJ, Zimmermann M, Reinhardt D, et al.: Improved outcome in pediatric relapsed acute myeloid leukemia: results of a randomized trial on liposomal daunorubicin by the International BFM Study Group. J Clin Oncol 31 (5): 599-607, 2013.

  16. Gorman MF, Ji L, Ko RH, et al.: Outcome for children treated for relapsed or refractory acute myelogenous leukemia (rAML): a Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia (TACL) Consortium study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 55 (3): 421-9, 2010.

  17. Bunin NJ, Davies SM, Aplenc R, et al.: Unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation for children with acute myeloid leukemia beyond first remission or refractory to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 26 (26): 4326-32, 2008.

  18. Locatelli F, Pende D, Maccario R, et al.: Haploidentical hemopoietic stem cell transplantation for the treatment of high-risk leukemias: how NK cells make the difference. Clin Immunol 133 (2): 171-8, 2009.

  19. Woodard P, Carpenter PA, Davies SM, et al.: Unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation for myelodysplastic syndrome in children. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17 (5): 723-8, 2011.

  20. Uberti JP, Agovi MA, Tarima S, et al.: Comparative analysis of BU and CY versus CY and TBI in full intensity unrelated marrow donor transplantation for AML, CML and myelodysplasia. Bone Marrow Transplant 46 (1): 34-43, 2011.

  21. Bredeson C, LeRademacher J, Kato K, et al.: Prospective cohort study comparing intravenous busulfan to total body irradiation in hematopoietic cell transplantation. Blood 122 (24): 3871-8, 2013.

  22. Meshinchi S, Leisenring WM, Carpenter PA, et al.: Survival after second hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for recurrent pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 9 (11): 706-13, 2003.

  23. Nishikawa T, Inagaki J, Nagatoshi Y, et al.: The second therapeutic trial for children with hematological malignancies who relapsed after their first allogeneic SCT: long-term outcomes. Pediatr Transplant 16 (7): 722-8, 2012.

  24. Taga T, Saito AM, Kudo K, et al.: Clinical characteristics and outcome of refractory/relapsed myeloid leukemia in children with Down syndrome. Blood 120 (9): 1810-5, 2012.

  25. Hitzler JK, He W, Doyle J, et al.: Outcome of transplantation for acute myelogenous leukemia in children with Down syndrome. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 19 (6): 893-7, 2013.

  26. Muramatsu H, Sakaguchi H, Taga T, et al.: Reduced intensity conditioning in allogeneic stem cell transplantation for AML with Down syndrome. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (5): 925-7, 2014.

  27. Johnston DL, Alonzo TA, Gerbing RB, et al.: Risk factors and therapy for isolated central nervous system relapse of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. J Clin Oncol 23 (36): 9172-8, 2005.

  28. Abbott BL, Rubnitz JE, Tong X, et al.: Clinical significance of central nervous system involvement at diagnosis of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia: a single institution's experience. Leukemia 17 (11): 2090-6, 2003.

  29. Sanz MA, Grimwade D, Tallman MS, et al.: Management of acute promyelocytic leukemia: recommendations from an expert panel on behalf of the European LeukemiaNet. Blood 113 (9): 1875-91, 2009.

  30. Fox E, Razzouk BI, Widemann BC, et al.: Phase 1 trial and pharmacokinetic study of arsenic trioxide in children and adolescents with refractory or relapsed acute leukemia, including acute promyelocytic leukemia or lymphoma. Blood 111 (2): 566-73, 2008.

  31. Niu C, Yan H, Yu T, et al.: Studies on treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia with arsenic trioxide: remission induction, follow-up, and molecular monitoring in 11 newly diagnosed and 47 relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia patients. Blood 94 (10): 3315-24, 1999.

  32. Shen ZX, Chen GQ, Ni JH, et al.: Use of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL): II. Clinical efficacy and pharmacokinetics in relapsed patients. Blood 89 (9): 3354-60, 1997.

  33. Shen ZX, Shi ZZ, Fang J, et al.: All-trans retinoic acid/As2O3 combination yields a high quality remission and survival in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101 (15): 5328-35, 2004.

  34. Zhang P: The use of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 13 (4): 195-200, 1999 Oct-Dec.

  35. Unnikrishnan D, Dutcher JP, Varshneya N, et al.: Torsades de pointes in 3 patients with leukemia treated with arsenic trioxide. Blood 97 (5): 1514-6, 2001.

  36. Barbey JT: Cardiac toxicity of arsenic trioxide. Blood 98 (5): 1632; discussion 1633-4, 2001.

  37. Lo-Coco F, Cimino G, Breccia M, et al.: Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg) as a single agent for molecularly relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Blood 104 (7): 1995-9, 2004.

  38. Dvorak CC, Agarwal R, Dahl GV, et al.: Hematopoietic stem cell transplant for pediatric acute promyelocytic leukemia. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 14 (7): 824-30, 2008.

  39. Bourquin JP, Thornley I, Neuberg D, et al.: Favorable outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for relapsed or refractory acute promyelocytic leukemia in childhood. Bone Marrow Transplant 34 (9): 795-8, 2004.

  40. de Botton S, Fawaz A, Chevret S, et al.: Autologous and allogeneic stem-cell transplantation as salvage treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia initially treated with all-trans-retinoic acid: a retrospective analysis of the European acute promyelocytic leukemia group. J Clin Oncol 23 (1): 120-6, 2005.

  41. Meloni G, Diverio D, Vignetti M, et al.: Autologous bone marrow transplantation for acute promyelocytic leukemia in second remission: prognostic relevance of pretransplant minimal residual disease assessment by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction of the PML/RAR alpha fusion gene. Blood 90 (3): 1321-5, 1997.

  42. Thirugnanam R, George B, Chendamarai E, et al.: Comparison of clinical outcomes of patients with relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia induced with arsenic trioxide and consolidated with either an autologous stem cell transplant or an arsenic trioxide-based regimen. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 15 (11): 1479-84, 2009.

Survivorship and Adverse Late Sequelae

While the issues of long-term complications of cancer and its treatment cross many disease categories, there are several important issues that relate to the treatment of myeloid malignancies that are worth stressing. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information.)

The Children’s Cancer Survivor Study examined 272 survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who did not undergo a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).[1] This study identified second malignancies (cumulative incidence, 1.7%) and cardiac toxic effects (cumulative incidence, 4.7%) as significant long-term risks. Cardiomyopathy has been reported in 4.3% of survivors of AML based on Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster studies. Of these, 2.5% showed clinical symptoms.[2] A retrospective study of cardiac function of children treated with United Kingdom Medical Research Council-based regimens at a median of 13 months following treatment reported a mean detrimental change in left ventricular stroke volume of 8.4% compared with baseline values.[3] For pediatric patients, the risk of developing early toxicity was 13.7% and the risk of developing late cardiac toxic effects (defined as 1 year after completing first-line therapy) was 17.4%. Early cardiac toxic effects was a significant predictor of late cardiac toxic effects and the development of clinical cardiomyopathy requiring long-term therapy.[4] Retrospective analysis of a single study suggests cardiac risk may be increased in children with Down syndrome,[5] but prospective studies are required to confirm this finding.

For children undergoing chemotherapy only for treatment of AML, renal, gastrointestinal, and hepatic late adverse effects have been reported to be rare.[6] A Nordic Society for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology retrospective trial of children treated for AML with chemotherapy only at a median follow-up of 11 years, based on a self-reported use of health care services, demonstrated similar health care usage and marital status as their siblings.[7] A COG study using a health-related, quality-of-life comparison reported an overall 21% of 5-year survivors having a severe or life-threatening chronic health condition; when compared by type of treatment, this percentage was 16% for the chemotherapy-only treated group, 21% for the autologous HSCT treated group, and 33% for those who received an allogeneic HSCT.[8]

In a review from one institution, the highest frequency of adverse long-term sequelae for children treated for AML included the following incidence rates: growth abnormalities (51%), neurocognitive abnormalities (30%), transfusion-acquired hepatitis (28%), infertility (25%), endocrinopathies (16%), restrictive lung disease (20%), chronic graft-versus-host disease (20%), secondary malignancies (14%), and cataracts (12%).[9] Most of these adverse sequelae are the consequence of myeloablative, allogeneic HSCT. Although cardiac abnormalities were reported in 8% of patients, this is an issue that may be particularly relevant with the current use of increased anthracyclines in clinical trials for children with newly diagnosed AML. Another study examined outcomes for children younger than 3 years with AML or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who underwent HSCT.[10] The toxicities reported include growth hormone deficiency (59%), dyslipidemias (59%), hypothyroidism (35%), osteochondromas (24%), and decreased bone mineral density (24%). Two of the 33 patients developed secondary malignancies. Of note, survivors had average intelligence but frequent attention-deficit problems and fine-movement abnormalities, compared with population controls. In contrast, The Bone Marrow Transplant Survivor Study compared childhood AML or ALL survivors with siblings using a self-reporting questionnaire.[11] The median follow-up was 8.4 years and 86% of patients received total-body irradiation (TBI) as part of their preparative transplant regimen. Survivors of leukemia who received an HSCT had significantly higher frequencies of several adverse effects, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, cataracts, osteonecrosis, exercise-induced shortness of breath, neurosensory impairments and problems with balance, tremor, and weakness than siblings. The overall assessment of health was significantly decreased in survivors compared with siblings (odds ratio = 2.2; P = .03). Significant differences were not observed between regimens using TBI compared with chemotherapy only, which mostly included busulfan. The outcomes were similar for patients with AML and ALL, suggesting that the primary cause underlying the adverse late effects was undergoing an HSCT.

A population-based study of survivors of childhood AML who had not undergone an HSCT reported equivalent rates of educational achievement, employment, and marital status compared with siblings. AML survivors were, however, significantly more likely to be receiving prescription drugs, especially for asthma, compared with siblings (23% vs. 9%; P = .03). Chronic fatigue has also been demonstrated to be a significantly more likely adverse late effect in survivors of childhood AML than in survivors of other malignancies.[12]

New therapeutic approaches to reduce long-term adverse sequelae are needed, especially for reducing the late sequelae associated with myeloablative HSCT.

Important resources for details on follow-up and risks for survivors of cancer have been developed by the Children Oncology Group’s Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Furthermore, having access to past medical history that can be shared with subsequent medical providers has become increasingly recognized as important for cancer survivors. Different templates that address this issue are available, such as those from the Cancer Survivor’s Treatment Record and the Cancer Survivor’s Medical Treatment Summary.

References:

  1. Mulrooney DA, Dover DC, Li S, et al.: Twenty years of follow-up among survivors of childhood and young adult acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. Cancer 112 (9): 2071-9, 2008.

  2. Creutzig U, Diekamp S, Zimmermann M, et al.: Longitudinal evaluation of early and late anthracycline cardiotoxicity in children with AML. Pediatr Blood Cancer 48 (7): 651-62, 2007.

  3. Orgel E, Zung L, Ji L, et al.: Early cardiac outcomes following contemporary treatment for childhood acute myeloid leukemia: a North American perspective. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60 (9): 1528-33, 2013.

  4. Temming P, Qureshi A, Hardt J, et al.: Prevalence and predictors of anthracycline cardiotoxicity in children treated for acute myeloid leukaemia: retrospective cohort study in a single centre in the United Kingdom. Pediatr Blood Cancer 56 (4): 625-30, 2011.

  5. O'Brien MM, Taub JW, Chang MN, et al.: Cardiomyopathy in children with Down syndrome treated for acute myeloid leukemia: a report from the Children's Oncology Group Study POG 9421. J Clin Oncol 26 (3): 414-20, 2008.

  6. Skou AS, Glosli H, Jahnukainen K, et al.: Renal, gastrointestinal, and hepatic late effects in survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia treated with chemotherapy only--a NOPHO-AML study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (9): 1638-43, 2014.

  7. Molgaard-Hansen L, Glosli H, Jahnukainen K, et al.: Quality of health in survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia treated with chemotherapy only: a NOPHO-AML study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 57 (7): 1222-9, 2011.

  8. Schultz KA, Chen L, Chen Z, et al.: Health conditions and quality of life in survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia comparing post remission chemotherapy to BMT: a report from the children's oncology group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (4): 729-36, 2014.

  9. Leung W, Hudson MM, Strickland DK, et al.: Late effects of treatment in survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia. J Clin Oncol 18 (18): 3273-9, 2000.

  10. Perkins JL, Kunin-Batson AS, Youngren NM, et al.: Long-term follow-up of children who underwent hematopoeitic cell transplant (HCT) for AML or ALL at less than 3 years of age. Pediatr Blood Cancer 49 (7): 958-63, 2007.

  11. Baker KS, Ness KK, Weisdorf D, et al.: Late effects in survivors of acute leukemia treated with hematopoietic cell transplantation: a report from the Bone Marrow Transplant Survivor Study. Leukemia 24 (12): 2039-47, 2010.

  12. Jóhannsdóttir IM, Hjermstad MJ, Moum T, et al.: Increased prevalence of chronic fatigue among survivors of childhood cancers: a population-based study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 58 (3): 415-20, 2012.


This information is provided by the National Cancer Institute.

This information was last updated on August 15, 2014.

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