Philadelphia-Chromosome-positive (Ph-positive) acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is associated with poor outcome in children as well as in adults. We report our experience in patients with Ph-positive ALL and review their clinico-laboratory characteristics, response to different therapies, and overall prognosis. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Since 1980, 41 newly diagnosed patients with Ph-positive ALL were referred to our service. In addition to confirmation of their diagnosis by morphologic studies of bone marrow aspiration and biopsy specimens, patients underwent cytogenetic, immunophenotypic, and molecular studies. Thirty-five patients received vincristine-Adriamycin-dexamethasone (VAD) or cyclophosphamide (CVAD) induction regimens, and 6 patients were treated with other combinations. Thirty-seven patients received salvage therapy that included VAD, high-dose cytosine arabinoside (ara-C)-containing regimens, methotrexate-asparaginase, and high-dose chemotherapy with autologous or allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). RESULTS: The 41 patients were among 334 patients with ALL (12%) seen during that same period. Patients with Ph-positive ALL were older and had a significantly lower incidence of anemia and a higher incidence of peripheral leukocytosis, FAB L2 (French-American-British) morphology, common acute lymphocytic leukemia antigens (CALLA), and CD34 marker positivity. With induction chemotherapy, 23 of 41 Ph-positive ALL patients (56%) achieved complete remission, and their median survival and remission duration were 11 months and 9 months, respectively. Thirteen of 31 Ph-positive ALL patients (42%) achieved complete response with high dose ara- C regimens during salvage therapy. CONCLUSIONS: In our experience, patients with Ph-positive ALL are usually older, have FAB L2 morphology, and are CALLA-positive and CD34-positive. These patients have a poor prognosis when treated with conventional approaches with lower overall complete response rate, shorter remission duration, and shorter survival. There appears to be a selective sensitivity to high-dose ara-C in these patients that suggests a possible role of this agent as part of early consolidation or induction regimens.
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