• high dose cytosine arabinoside;
  • refractory acute leukaemia

17 patients (age 15–58 years) with refractory acute leukaemia (14 AML, 3 ALL) were treated with high dose cytosine arabinoside (AraC) at a dose of 3000 mg/m2, twice daily for 6 d (13 patients with AraC alone, 4 patients with AraC and doxorubicin). 9 patients achieved complete remission (53 %) and 2 a partial remission. Although sophisticated isolation and blood banking facilities are required during the pancytopenic period, the toxicity of this treatment was acceptable. Vomiting, headache, somnolence, fever, conjunctivitis and cardiac arrhythmias were found most frequently. The unexpected pulmonary failure in 3 patients was worrisome. The duration of remissions was from 1 to 12 months.

Results obtained with high dose AraC are satisfactory and hold promise for the treatment of patients with previously untreated AML.