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Cancer Health Center

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Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia/Other Myeloid Malignancies Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Recurrent Childhood AML and Other Myeloid Malignancies


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]

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