Background: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer. This study was designed to determine the clinical, biological features and outcomes among children with ALL treated at the only pediatric hematology-oncology center in North Macedonia.
Patients and methods: Seventy four consecutive children age 1 to 14 years, diagnosed with ALL between January 1, 2010 and October 31, 2017 and treated according to ALL IC BFM 2002 protocol were retrospectively evaluated.
Results: The median age at diagnosis was 5 years and males were predominant (60.8%). Precursor B-cell ALL was diagnosed in 81.1% of patients, while 18.9% had T cell ALL. CNS involvement at the time of diagnoses was present in 6.8% of patients. Complete remission was achieved in 93.2% of patients. The induction death rate was 5.4%. The rate of death during first complete remission was 4.1%. Relapse occurred in 13.5% of patients. After a median observation time of 44 months, the 5-year overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) rates (± standard error) were 79.4% ± 5.2% and 74% ± 5.7%, respectively. The 5-year EFS rate for patients categorized as standard risk by NCI criteria was significantly higher than for high risk patients (83.3% versus 46.7%; P<0.001). Patients with precursor B-cell ALL and negative minimal residual disease (MRD) status at the end of induction had the best prognoses.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that the treatment results of childhood ALL in North Macedonia are comparable to those obtained in the ALL IC BFM 2002 trial.