Interferon-alpha and cytarabine useful in pediatric chronic myeloid leukemia

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The combination of interferon (IFN)- alpha and cytarabine appears helpful in the treatment of children with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), according to French researchers.

Dr. Frיdיric Millot, of Hפpital Jean Bernard, Poitiers, and colleagues note that although allogenic bone marrow transplantation may be curative, a histocompatible donor may not be available.

To assess the efficacy of treatment with IFN and cytarabine (cytosine arabinosine) in these circumstances, the researchers studied 12 patients with CML. All initially received IFN and hydroxyurea and were then randomized to treatment with IFN alone or IFN in combination with cytarabine. The results appear in the January issue of the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

At 6 months, a complete hematologic response was seen in all six patients in the combination group and in four patients in the IFN group. A major cytogenetic response was seen in three of the combination patients and two of the IFN patients.

At followup, ranging from 18 to 48 months, three of the combination and two of the IFN patients were still alive and in major cytogenetic response.

In light of these findings, the researchers conclude that combination therapy induces "complete hematologic and major cytogenetic responses and is well tolerated in patients younger than age 18 years with CML." Thus, it may offer an alternative to bone marrow transplantation in children without a suitable donor.

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 2002;24:18-22.

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