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Treatment of Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Cambodia
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  • Laura Küpfer,
  • Bun Meng,
  • Denis Laurent,
  • Martin Zimmermann,
  • Felix Niggli,
  • Jean-Pierre Bourquin,
  • Iv Malene
Laura Küpfer
University Children's Hospital Zürich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Bun Meng
Kantha Bopha Hospital
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Denis Laurent
Kantha Bopha Hospital
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Martin Zimmermann
Hannover Medical School
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Felix Niggli
University Children's Hospital Zurich
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Jean-Pierre Bourquin
University Children's Hospital
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Iv Malene
Kantha Bopha Hospital
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Background. The treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remains challenging in low-income countries. Here we evaluate the experience with a modified Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster (BFM) treatment protocol ALL-Moscow Berlin (MB)-91 at the Kantha Bopha hospitals, a charity-funded institution providing free pediatric care in Cambodia. Methods. This is a retrospective study including 110 unselected patients aged 9 months to 14 years diagnosed with ALL between 2015 and 2017. Patients were stratified in high- (HR) and standard-risk (SR) groups based on clinical criteria. The cumulative doses of anthracyclines were reduced to 120 mg/m2 for SR patients and consolidation was based on Capizzi methotrexate elements instead of cyclophosphamide, cytarabine and high dose methotrexate. Supportive empiric antibiotic treatment and whole blood transfusions were possible. Results. 63 patients (57 %) were HR, mostly based on high leukemia burden with hyperleukocytosis > 50 G/l, massive lymph node and hepato-splenic involvement, reflecting a high disease burden. 72 patients (65.5%) reached complete remission (CR) on day 36. The estimated 3-year overall survival (OS) was 34.9 %, 50.5 % for SR and 23.4 % for HR patients. Most events were due to severe infections (40 (53.3 %)) and bleeding (15 (20 %)), mostly during induction and consolidation. Relapse was confirmed in 13 cases (11.8 %). No patients abandoned treatment. Conclusion. ALL chemotherapy is feasible in a charity-funded public institution with results comparable to other low-middle income countries, but treatment-related mortality remains limiting. This will justify investments in diagnostics to stratify more patients for reduced intensity treatment and in supportive care.
Oct 2021Published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer volume 68 issue 10. 10.1002/pbc.29184