Relapse of acute leukemia after marrow transplantation: Natural history and results of subsequent therapy

J. Mortimer, M. A. Blinder, S. Schulman, F. R. Appelbaum, C. D. Buckner, R. A. Clift, J. E. Sanders, R. Storb, E. D. Thomas

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174 Scopus citations


Of 455 acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANL) patients who underwent marrow transplantation, 95 (21%) relapsed a median of 6.5 months posttransplantation and 62 received further treatment. Twenty achieved remission. Success of therapy was related to the length of time from marrow transplant to relapse and to the use of cytarabine (Ara-C) and daunomycin. Aggressive chemotherapy for patients relapsing within 100 days of marrow transplant was associated with a high incidence of early death (six of 14 patients) and a low probability of remission (one of 14). Of 23 patients who relapsed in excess of 1 year from marrow transplant, 15 achieved a complete remission. The median disease-free survival is 6 months (range, 0.4 to 53+ months). Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) recurred in 130 of 366 patients (36%), and 94 received further therapy. Fifty-two achieved a remission. Remissions were more common in late relapse patients (> 1 year from transplantation): 65% v 7% for those relapsing within 100 days from transplant (P < .05). Testicular relapse occurred in 11 patients and was the sole site of relapse in seven. Three are alive and free of disease 58 to 109+ months after relapse. The median survival for the treated patients is 10.5 months (range, 5 to 109+ months). We propose that reinduction be attempted in all patients relapsing > 1 year from marrow transplantation. Ara-C and daunomycin should be employed in the treatment of ANL. The decision for treatment of patients relapsing earlier than 1 year should be made on an individual basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


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