Cancer 2011 Oct 28;117(20):4788-95. Epub 2011 Mar 28.
Division of Hematology/Oncology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Background: The objectives of this study were to describe the incidence, timing, and predictors of treatment-related mortality (TRM) among children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Methods: Patients aged <20 years who were diagnosed with ALL between January 2000 and March 2008, who received treatment in any of the 3 countries, and who started induction chemotherapy were included in the study. Almost all patients were treated on the El Salvador-Guatemala-Honduras II protocol, which was based on the St. Jude Total XIII and XV protocols. Biologic, socioeconomic, and nutritional variables were examined as predictors of TRM.
Results: Of 1670 patients, TRM occurred as a first event in 156 children (9.3%); TRM occurred during remission induction therapy in 92 of 156 children (59%), between remission induction and maintenance therapy in 27 of 156 children (17%), and during maintenance therapy in 37 of 156 children (24%). Although the TRM rate decreased in patients who were diagnosed after July 1, 2004 (11.2% vs 7.9%; P = .02), the rate of induction death did not change (5.2% vs 5.8%; P = .58). Independent predictors of induction death included higher risk ALL (odds ratio [OR], 1.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-3.27; P = .04), lower initial platelet counts (OR per 10 × 10(9) /L, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.89-0.98; P = .005), and longer travel time to the clinic (OR, 1.06 per hour; 95% CI, 1.01-1.14; P = .03).
Conclusions: In Central America, TRM remains an important cause of treatment failure in children with ALL. A large proportion of TRM occurs in maintenance, although this proportion has decreased over time. Supportive care interventions should especially target children who present with low platelet counts. Further study on transfusion ability and the location of induction deaths is required.