Recurrence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in the central nervous system (CNS) confers a poor prognosis, although to the authors' knowledge, only a few studies have analyzed this issue in adults. For the current study, the authors analyzed the frequency, predictive factors, and prognosis of CNS involvement and recurrence in adult patients with ALL who did not receive cranial irradiation for CNS prophylaxis. Four hundred sixty-seven adult patients (age ≥15 years) with ALL were treated on 4 protocols: ALL-89 (standard-risk and high-risk ALL; n = 108 patients), ALL-93 (high-risk ALL; n = 222 patients), ALL-96 (standard-risk ALL; n = 84 patients), and ALL3-97 (Burkitt leukemia; n = 53 patients). CNS prophylaxis consisted of intrathecal methotrexate, cytarabine, and hydrocortisone together with high-dose systemic methotrexate and cytarabine. The mean age (± standard deviation) was 33 years (± 16 years), and 272 patients were males. ALL subtypes included an early pre-B phenotype (15%), a common phenotype (45%), a pre-B phenotype (5%), a mature B phenotype (11%), and a T phenotype (24%). CNS involvement at diagnosis was observed in 18 patients (3.9%). Of 159 recurrences, 22 occurred (5.8%) in the CNS (14 isolated and 8 combined). A lactate dehydrogenase level >1000 U/L was the only factor associated with the risk of CNS recurrence. A complete remission was attained in 7 of 22 patients (32%). The median overall survival after recurrence was 0.7 years for patients with isolated CNS recurrence, 0.13 years for patients with combined recurrence, and 0.41 years for patients with bone marrow recurrence (P= .11). The only 2 survivors underwent stem cell transplantation. The frequency of CNS recurrence in adult patients with ALL who do not receive radiotherapy for CNS prophylaxis was similar to the frequency observed in protocols that included cranial irradiation. A lactate dehydrogenase value >1000 U/L was the only factor found to be associated with CNS recurrence. The prognosis for patients who develop CNS recurrence is poor, identical to that for patients who develop bone marrow recurrence. © 2006 American Cancer Society.
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- Central nervous system