Induction therapy for adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is similar across essentially all regimens, comprised of vincristine, corticosteroids, and anthracyclines intensified with cyclophosphamide, asparaginase, or both. Given the lack of randomized data, to date, no regimen has emerged as standard. The authors previously evaluated cytarabine 3 g/m2 daily for 5 days with mitoxantrone 80 mg/m2 (the ALL-2 regimen) as a novel induction regimen. Compared with historic controls, the ALL-2 regimen was superior in terms of incidence of complete remission, failure with resistant disease, and activity in patients with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive ALL.
The authors conducted a multicenter, prospective, randomized trial of the ALL-2 regimen compared with a standard 4-drug induction (the L-20 regimen). Patients also received consolidation, maintenance therapy, and central nervous system prophylaxis. The trial accrued patients from August 1996 to October 2004.
The median follow-up for survivors was 7 years, and the median patient age was 43 years. Responses were evaluated in 164 patients. The treatment arms were balanced in terms of pretreatment characteristics. The frequency of complete remission for the ALL-2 regimen versus the L-20 regimen was 83% versus 71% (P = .06). More patients on the L-20 arm failed with resistant disease (21% vs 8%; P = .02). Induction deaths were comparable at 9% (ALL-2) versus 7% (L-20). The median survival was similar; and, at 5 years, the survival rate was 33% alive on the ALL-2 arm versus 27% on the L-20.
Despite superior results of induction therapy with the ALL-2 regimen, this treatment did not improve long-term outcomes. When coupled to the reported experience of other studies in adults with ALL, the results of this randomized trial raise the possibility that ultimate outcomes in adult ALL may be independent of the specific regimen chosen. Cancer 2013. © 2012 American Cancer Society.